GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) Grantees Scoop Awards at the 6th Women & Environment Dialogue

Aug 31, 2015

The 2014 UNDP Equator Prize Winners, Heiveld Cooperative from the Northern Cape and the Setsoto Women’s Empowerment Group based in the Free State Province, were honoured among other women by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms. Barbara Thomson during the 6th Women and Environment Dialogue which took place in Pretoria, Gauteng on the 17-18 August 2015 under the theme Role of Women in Accelerating a Transition towards a Green Economy

The Member of Executive Council (MEC) of Environmental and Nature Conservation, Ms. Tiny Chotelo jointly presented the “Certificate of Recognition” awards with the Deputy Minister.  The awards were presented during a Gala Dinner on the 17th of August to Ms. Alida Afrika, Chairperson of the Heiveld Cooperative and Ms. Zelda de Wee, Manager of Heiveld Cooperative. Ms. Mary Raletooane, Programme Manager received the award on behalf of Setsoto Women’s Empowerment Group.

The Deputy Minister applauded Heiveld Cooperative for contributing towards community empowerment while addressing environmental degradation in the South Bokkeveld, Northern Cape region.  The Cooperative is made up of more than 65 small-scale rooibos farmers who export high quality organic rooibos tea in the Fair Trade organic market in 13 countries and is generating income for the cooperative and their families. The SGP provided funding support to enhance the farmers’ capacity to farm in a sustainable manner by conserving soil, water and other natural resources thereby reducing land degradation in the area.

Setsoto Women’s Empowerment Group was recognised for their excellent work in environmental conservation and sustainable livelihoods for young women in Ficksburg through the Adopt-A-River Project. SGP supported the Group to clean and rehabilitate the Caledon River at the border of Lesotho, as well as training of women on waste management, environmental management and river safety. The project was combined with establishing food gardens which supports an orphanage, making arts and crafts as well as making tables and coffins from alien plant trees that are removed from the river banks. The Group has now been able to attract additional funding from the IDC, private sector as well as Japanese Embassy to ensure project sustainability. The organization now employs 160 women - it started off with 10.

The National Women and Environment Forum established in 2010, provides a platform for women to share experiences in the environment sector representing Government spheres, private sector and organised business, civil society representatives in rural and urban environments, organised labour, and academia and research institutions. The event was attended by close to 200 people.

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