March 10, 2016, Graaff-Reinet, Camdeboo Local Municipality, Robert Sobukwe Building
Project Kick-off Meeting started the project and defined the settlement site
The Concept of EcoSUN Sustainable Village is a result of long-term negotiations on several levels: on the one side the technical level which was discussed thoroughly amongst the German and RSA companies involved, however the other side is of equal or even higher relevance: How to find a community which is enthusiastic enough to overcome all the challenges which are connected with such kind of project, and to implement it for the benefit of the people, how to get them into the project, to buy in.
In our case we started with negotiation with Camdeboo in July 2011 where there was a lot of enthusiasm to become a forerunner in that most important field of human settlements. Step by step the project was then developed and a sponsor was found - the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the South African National Department of Science and Technology (DST) through their CLIENT initiative as part of the German-South African technical and scientific cooperation which is oriented toward improved living conditions of the people and an exchange of ideas, technologies, and skills. The funding period started in October 2015 and will last three years. And after a first, during project period, on-site visit of a team of the German partners there was decided to start the project with a kick-off workshop which was held in Graaff-Reinet on March 10, 2016.
Participants included Councillors, staff person and other stakeholders of Camdeboo Local Municipalilty - see figure 1.
Figure 1 Impression of the Kick-off-Workshop (from left: Director Berrington explaining the role of Camdeboo;
Barbara showing first design examples; The German team members in front of the Sobukwe Building
Aims of the workshop
The Workshop aimed i) to clarify the project shaping after local conditions, needs and wishes of the people, and the IDP statements, ii) to define the project realization site, iii) to discuss the mutual responsibilities and draft an agreement between the German team and the Municipality, and prepare it for a council decision, and iv.) to define the way forward.
As the representative of CLM, Director Technical Services and Infrastructure Ivor Berrington welcomed the participants and explained that CLM is in the specific situation of the amalgamation with Ikwezi and Baviaans LMs where after CLM will become the largest, in terms of area, Municipality in RSA. None of the commitments entered into in the past will be affected in any way by the changes in the organization of the LMs involved. It will be the intention also of the new Municipality to pioneer the implementation of techno-social innovations to improve the living conditions of the people, especially the poor, and give their people a good perspective for their life in Camdeboo and will therefore support EcoSUN Sustainable Village project in every way possible.
German project team presented their project aims and backgrounds. They deal with the six principal project topics which are under the responsibility of the companies and institutions partnering the EcoSUN project, and their RSA counterparts, as
(1) Architecture, town planning and design of houses and the Multipurpose Centre (Mohren Architects)
(2) Grey water treatment and water recycling (INTEWA, Pure Rain RSA)
(3) Tap water preparation and rain water cleaning (EVERS)
(4) Energy balancing and energy production via biogas technology using organic residues (Markert Engineers)
(5) Waste management and treatment, and production of organic fertilizers (GTS)
(6) Coordination and total balancing in term of costs, material, climate, energy and carbon footprint of the whole system (Potsdam University)
Presentations, collected on a memory stick, and printouts of first design proposals of RDP and RDP+ houses prepared by Mohren Architects, were handed over to CLM.
Figure 2 Design examples for the dwellings, as presented at Kick-off
After a thorough discussion of the presentations the following was achieved:
- CLM declared that, based on the Council decision by 2011 and the IDP, the Municipality is fully committed to support the project.
- CLM agrees to realize the project in Graaff-Reinet, Kroonvale Settlement. The site was proposed by the German partners after an analysis of three of the sites in Graaff-Reinet (see also Figure 1, red marked) and one in Aberdeen where RDP housing projects are planned in near future, and was agreed by all partners as best fitting into the needs of a proper project realization.
Figure 3 Project site position in Kroonvale Settlement
Figure 4 Existing building suited as Multipurpose Community Centre
3. German partners clarified that, the project period funded by German BMBF is limited to 30 months from now and that therefore a start of the concrete building activities would be necessary within a time frame of about one year.
4. It was agreed that the minutes will be sent to the Premier of EC to ask for support for an accelerated decision making by the responsible Department under full consideration of the legal needs and constraints.
5. CLM in principle agrees with the draft of the cooperation agreement proposed by the German partners which was sent to CLM in February and was handed over to CLM during the workshop. The Council of Camdeboo LM will be recommended to accept and sign the formal decision during the next Council meeting which will take place in early April. CLM understands that this agreement is a pre-condition of the continuation of the funding of the project by the German government and agrees insofar that the signing of the document is a matter of urgency.
6. CLM and the other RSA based participants clarified that, from their point of view, the project is of an innovative character and will help to build human settlements sustainably. There were a number of important advices to improve the design of the whole EcoSUN project aiming to fit it better into the needs of the people in the settlements.
- CLM will sign the agreement and send an approval to the German partners.
- A steering committee will be established and a chair person defined.
- The minutes of the workshop will be send to Department of Human Settlements and the Premier's Office to ask for support.
- An agreement will be drafted with the Robert Sobukwe Trust.
- A cooperation with NMMU, Department of Architecture and the Chair of education in human settlements will be established to embed the project into the scientific structure of RSA.
- German partners will update the design proposals and synchronize with Camdeboo town planners planning team in July
- Next meeting scheduled for October 2016