Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP)
SANParks started implementation of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects in the late 1990's when the Working for Water (WfW) programme started in South Africa. The EPWP projects are funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs Natural Resource Management and Social Responsibility Programmes.
Since then, the number of the programmes and budget allocated to SANParks increased to include the following:
- Working for Water: Removal of alien invasive plants.
- Working for Land: Removal of bush encroachment.
- Value Added Industries: Farleigh Eco-Furniture Factory.
- Wildlife Economy: Rehabilitation - Erosion control.
- Environmental Monitors: Support to conservation management.
- Working for Wetlands: Rehabilitation of Wetlands.
- Working for the Coast: Cleaning and rehabilitation of coast.
- People and Parks: Infrastructure development and rehabilitation of redundant infrastructure.
- Working for Fire: Fire prevention and control services.
The main focus of the EPWP is to provide income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out socially useful activities. Within SANParks, the programme plays a major role in terms of the social investment into neighbouring communities by national parks, while at the same time addressing some core biodiversity management and strategic infrastructure development objectives.
A pilot study done of the social impacts of EPWP projects in Agulhas National Park found that “the impact of job creation projects …. is of high significance as it addressed a critical need …. in an area with few alternatives.” Since most national parks are situated in remote areas, and SANParks is often the only implementer in these areas, it is especially rural communities that benefit directly from the various projects.
The development of SMME’s is an important part of the SANParks EPWP programme. All the people employed and the small contractors used for the implementation of the various projects are from local communities. The development of small contractors is addressed by assisting them to become independent companies that comply with all required legislation, have a bookkeeping system, exposure to tender for work, and skills that can be used when projects end.
The Kruger National Park (KNP) started with its Contractor Development Programme in 1999. The objective was to empower and train groups of individuals from neighbouring communities as emerging building contractors. As part of the objectives the trainees were trained up to NQF 2 level.
The training of EPWP beneficiaries is compulsory and includes accredited and non-accredited training. Over the past ten years, some 436,000 training days were achieved in SANParks projects. SANParks further decided to establish media centres that could serve additional needs of beneficiaries and communities, i.e. giving access to information and developing technology skills.
SANParks, together with communities, identified the need for good health care and nutrition. As a result, three nurseries were created in Addo, Wilderness and Golden Gate to establish vegetable gardens. Ten beneficiaries are employed to oversee nurseries and vegetables are supplied to members of the communities as well as community care projects.
Each project adopts a school for a year. Regular visits are made to these schools for environmental education and social days.
HIV/Aids Awareness is an important part of the EPWP and a specific social day is part of the annual calendar focusing on youth and nutrition.
The EPWP teams were informed about the impacts of alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse is a real problem in some communities and some of the project beneficiaries. Addressing this problem will receive more attention in certain projects with long-term interventions to assist people.
The campaigns promote awareness of safe driving and the Roads Traffic Act, where the contractors are responsible on a daily basis for the transportation of their teams. Vehicle inspections are done to ensure compliance with safety requirements. Other role-players such as the traffic police are involved in educating contractors.
Environmental awareness forms part of the EPWP project implementation, and as such environmental days are celebrated in the communities. Arbor Day, World Environment Day, Cleaning campaigns, Marine Day and Internal Coastal Clean-up celebrations are held throughout the year in the communities.
Various contractors from the Working for the Coast (WftC), Working for Water (WfW) and Working on Land (WoL) projects identified critical needs in their communities and implemented their own initiatives to address these needs.
The benefits to SANParks include opportunities to address biodiversity conservation and infrastructure needs in national parks. The removal of alien invasive vegetation addresses one of the biggest threats to biodiversity, while the rehabilitation of wetlands, cleaning of beaches, erosion control and removal of redundant infrastructure reinstates the natural environment to what it should be. These projects als enables SANParks to connect to society by employing neighbouring community members to achieve key performance areas for the organisation. WfW teams removed 245,000 ha of alien invasive species and did follow up clearing of 1,188,000 ha over the past ten years.
The park expansion project incorporated new land into national parks. As this was previously farmland, many old fences and redundant structures have to be removed through this project.