Asset Based Community-driven Development (ABCD) is Zingela Ulwazi’s approach to community empowerment.

By December Ndhlovu

Asset-based community-driven development (ABCD), or asset-based community-driven development (ACDD) as it is sometimes called, is a bottom-up way of working with communities that focuses on community strengths and assets rather than on deficits and problems. ABCD or ACDD is a form of development where a community uses what it has to achieve what it want.  ABCD focuses on the half-full glass. The half-empty glass represents the notion that communities are deficient and have many needs. The half-full glass represents the notion that communities (and the people who live there) have many strengths, capabilities and assets. It is the half-full glass that gives us something to work with.

Unlike the traditional approach to problems where people confront the government and municipalities for service delivery, ACBD or ACDD encourages people to take control of their lives and use the assets they have to get what they want. That is the decision that was taken by an organization called Zingela Ulwazi (hunt for wisdom) when a few years back decided to form an organization to help the poor rural women around Acornhoek by teaching about permaculture, helping them establish small businesses and home gardens, which are fully fenced, as well as installing 2200l JOJO tanks for water harvesting since there is water access problem in the Orpen RDP village. These gardens will be there for a very long time, maybe long enough to feed those that are babies today, when they are grown-ups.

These women will never again sleep without anything to eat because there are summer and winter crops. The seeds can be saved for the next planting season and the soil nutrients can be improved whenever need arises using the sustainable methods and techniques. Communities can also set up communal savings vault for saving funds. The principles of eco-village design (EDE) and ABCD (or ACDD) encourage people to have total control of their life and assets and people can always plan using what from they already have to improve to the desired level of life they envisage.

Zingela Ulwazi launched Permaculture Explorers (PE) in 2019, an initiative which helps poor women from the rural outskirts of Acornhoek in Bushbuckridge to have food gardens and water access. They started with 20 women from the Orpen RDP village in 2019 and that group later graduated early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. This year 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic they launched the second group of the PE’s and the project is flourishing beyond anyone’s expectations. The second group consist of 20 women from the same Orpen RDP village as the first batch.

Now recently they partnered with women from the same village who are fed up with domestic violence and gender based violence (GBV) that is plaguing Mzansi since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. This initiative is called ‘Sekwanele’ meaning enough is enough : Zingela Ulwazi is supporting the women of RDP Village to advocate for a change of the violence- enabling patriarchal mindset, and teaches women self-defence tactics to be able to defend themselves from attackers.

These are initiatives that are directly improving peoples’ lives by bringing practical solutions to peoples’ practical problems. These are a trendsetting and life-changing initiatives that will equip these poor women for the rest of their lives. Gender based violence is a serious problem here in Mzansi so this initiative is precisely necessary and life serving for women and their children. Instant of relying on police, these women will be in a position to defend and attack their assailants.

Sekwanele…….enough is enough

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