The informal waste economy

How often do you think about where your trash goes?

For the hundred or so people living and working on the Makana landfill site, the answer is every day. Amidst piles of discarded hairpieces, unopened packs of condoms, plastic and hazardous electronic waste, the waste pickers are attempting to establish healthy and sustainable waste management solutions.

Besides recycling waste significantly contributing to lowering carbon emissions and reducing the number of new materials being manufactured, recycling is an industry that can change the livelihoods of waste pickers and people living on the landfill site.

Waste Pickers in Grahamstown are resourceful and innovative. Living under these harsh conditions has driven the movement to transform the Makana landfill, (preferably) with but even without support from the municipality and the formal sector of the town.

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Self-Sustainability in the Face of Food Insecurity


Located in the marginalized side of Grahamstown, is a local non-profit organization that is changing the lives of Grahamstown residents. Umthathi Community Gardens, in Location 7, aims to teach the community how to manage their own organic gardens and how to live healthier lives, with limited resources.

Sustainable farming, even on a small scale, can greatly improve the standard of living for vulnerable people. Umthathi aims to provide the community with invaluable skills that can aid with employment as well as self-sufficiency. A significant portion of the community are unemployed and programs such as these can help provide nourishment and food security that families need. Health issues such as HIV/AIDS are also prevalent, and a healthy organic diet is important in maintain one’s well being.


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Debating Food Security in GHT

Up4Debate examines food security in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa, where high unemployment has left many unsure of where their next meal is coming from.

Kayla Molander talks with Francis Williamson, a committee member at the Grahamstown Feeding Association, and Nomowetu Magadla, frontline manager at Grahamstown Pick ‘n’ Pay. Magadla organises a food truck that feeds those in need through donations from Pick ‘n’ Pay.

Sound mixing & engineering: Thandiwe Matyobeni & Mvyusis Tyiwani
Anchor: Kayla Molander
Producer: Grethe Swart

GHT youth turn to drugs

Youth in marginalized communities of Grahamstown are exposed to drugs from an early age. Linda Ngamlana, principal of Amasango Career School, says “some of them are abusing drugs because they come with that from their families.” Amasango Career School is a public school that accommodates children with extrinsic, psycho-social barriers to learning.

A survey done by social worker, Judith Rungani (Fort Hare), looked at schools in lower-income areas of Grahamstown. The survey questioned 100 children who abuse substances about what they assume the effects of drugs are, as well as what substances they abused.

According to the survey, the most commonly used drugs are those that occur on the market legally (for adults) and are therefore easily accessible. Many shop owners in the community will sell substances, such as alcohol and cigarettes, to underage children because they need the money themselves.

“Some of [the children at Amasango] are abusing marijuana, alcohol and drugs. Marijuana is easily accessible.  We sometimes call the police when we confiscate marijuana here at school and they do tell the police that they get it from the township; it’s not difficult to get it,” says Ngamlana.

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New Board of Directors appointed for SAA

On 2 September, a new SAA (South African Airways) board was selected from names submitted by finance minister, Pravin Gordhan to the cabinet. Both President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa were absent, resulting in it being chaired by Susan Shabangu, Minister of Women in the Presidency. The new board should reside for the next three years. Dudu Myeni was appointed chairperson for another year. Tryphosa Ramano, a former chief financial officer (CFO) at SAA was appointed deputy chairperson and non-executive director.

While the new board promises to strengthen SAA, there is still disquiet regarding Myeni’s reappointment. “The SAA board is reinforced with people who have a solid financial background,” said UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, to Fin24. Brand manager and political commentator, Solly Moeng, said, “keeping her will do nothing to boost potential investor confidence. It will also bolster the views of key stakeholders against any hope that things will start improving.”

Gordhan showed confidence that the board will function effectively in the future. “There is now a much stronger balance on the board and the chair will have to work with that team,” said Gordhan. “Any notion that the chair can carry on doing things with the new board that might have been done in the past must be seen in the context of the board’s memorandum of understanding and the script that has to be followed as well as government rules.”



1820’s Settler’s Monument

The recent #RhodesMustFall campaign provoked vital conversations about the colonial heritage of the country.  Understandably, the monuments and artworks representing colonial history created a sense of unease among the students, which was emphasized by the institutional racism of the university.

The 1820 Settler’s Monument

Recently, the Makana community has been discussing the possibility of a name change for the monument that commemorate the European settlers who arrived in and colonized Grahamstown in 1820.

The large structure stands proudly on the hill, towering over Grahamstown. The Grahamstown Foundation has been working to recolonize the space. “I have enormous respect and admiration for the foundation,” says former Constitutional Court judge, Albie Sachs. “They do really outstanding work and an enormous amount of educational work; the Science festival and school children come here… they’re working with minimal resources and it’s touch and go.”

According to the CEO of the National Arts Festival, Tony Lankester, The Grahamstown Foundation is in the process of deciding to change the name. The Monument is home to the National Arts Festival, a major tourism event for the town, generating substantial income.However, as the National Arts Festival are only tenants of the monument, Lankester says they “can’t take a unilateral decision on what to call it.” Lankester adds, “[NAF doesn’t]  refer to the ‘1820 Settler s Monument’ anywhere. Everywhere we mention it, we call it ‘the Monument’, because of our taking a position on the subject.”

To read more on the discussion of renaming historical architecture and artwork, click the link below.

Protesting Rape-Culture (Podcast)

On 8 August 2016, merely months after the #RUReferenceList protests, Rhodes University hosted a HeAIDS dialogue, intending to address issues concerning gender-based violence. 

Students were unhappy with Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Sizwe Mabizela’s decision to host the event, considering university management’s supposed inability to critically address the issue of rape-culture at the university.

Furthermore, many of the protesters felt that were intentionally excluded from the event, as a result of the university failing o advertise the event, which prohibited the movement from organizing.

Students disrupted Dr Mabizela’s opening address, claiming that he has not properly addressed the movements demands, making his speech hypocritical and merely for the purposes of maintaining a positive image.

The student demands included expulsion of alleged perpetrators of rape and an improvement on the process of reporting sexual violence within the university.

Protesting rape culture is a 5 minute podcast discussing the events.

The podcast features:

Lindsay Kelland, researcher at the Allan Grey Institute.

Yolanda Dyanti, student activist

Corrine Knowles, activist and lecturer at Rhodes



Check out more about the events that transpired on Storify:


The Big Pineapple

The Big Pineapple is located in Bathurst, Eastern Cape, and is the biggest artificial pineapple in the world. It’s a great tourist attraction and offers some educational insight into the pineapple industry, which is one of the biggest industries in the Eastern Cape.  The small town of Bathurst is about 42 km away from Grahamstown and has a population is 6368. Bathurst is home to many farms and nature reserves. Summerpride Farm is the largest producer of pineapples and contributes to the economy of the Eastern Cape.

The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant and usually produces up to 200 flowers. In 2007, the pineapple farming industry took a massive hit, after the use of contaminated fertilizers reduced the number of pineapples produced. The industry is still in recovery.

Pineapples grow extremely well in the Eastern Cape’s temperate environment and regular rainfall. The flowers of the perennial fruit grow in a pinkish- purple colour.


When the Well Runs Dry (video)

Economics of Water addresses the issues affecting the ongoing volatility of water supply in Makana, by looking the interaction between residents, business owners and the municipality. Despite large amounts of funds being allocated in municipal budgets, Makana still deals with water crises almost annually.

The ongoing water crisis has a direct negative impact on the economy, which is kept afloat by small businesses, tourism and the influx of students from the local schools and Rhodes University. An even greater issue is the unequal access to water, as a result of the social structure of the past. When Makana experiences water crises, Grahamstown East is most severely affected. Despite investment and budget allocations dedicated to improving the situation, Grahamstown’s infrastructure, such as dams and pipelines, need to be replaced and maintained.

Ongoing water shortages and outages threaten tourism and business. On June 26 2016, during fest, a pump in Howieson’s Poort pump station, which provides water to Grahamstown West, malfunctioned. The problem could have been avoided if the employee had been stayed on duty and reported the malfunction early. Reparations had been made and tankers of water had been provided, allowing he festival to continue. However, areas in Grahamstown East were still without water.