In November 2012, five SJC members travelled to Nompumulelo in the Eastern Cape for the first leg of a “knowledge exchange” with the Nompumulelo Safety Forum (NSF). The “knowledge exchange” was initiated by the Open Society Foundation of South Africa – a funder of both the SJC and the NSF. The NSF is comprised of a number of community structures operating in Nompumulelo including faith-based organisations, Family and Marriage Association of South Africa (FAMSA) and the local Community Policing Forum.

Children fetch water from an unygienic standpipe littered with refuse

Both of our organisations are working towards improving conditions in our respective communities – with a focus on issues of safety, health and ensuring government fulfils its obligations to provide basic services. While Khayelitsha and Nompumulelo differ in a number of ways, there is a great deal that is shared by both and it was felt it would be mutually beneficial to meet, discuss our experiences and strategies and see where we could assist each other in the future.

On the evenings of 13 and 14 November the SJC ran informal workshops that were attended by members of the NSF and the Nompumulelo community. The topics covered included refuse removal, sanitation and HIV/AIDS – issues that deeply affect both of our communities. Each presenter provided a summary of the situation in Khayelitsha and what strategies the SJC has used to try and improve the quality of and access to these most basic and vital of services. Each presentation was followed by a Q & A session and discussion.

Interactions such as these are incredibly important. We recognise the necessity of partnerships, of sharing knowledge and assisting one another to improve living conditions for all. While our work focuses on Khayelitsha, we are aware that the conditions we are aiming to improve here are found in many places across the country.

We plan to host members of the NSF in Khayelitsha in the first few months of 2013 for the return leg of the “knowledge exchange”.