The Ivanhoe Mines South African subsidiary, Ivanplats, created the Bonega Communities Trust as a corporate social initiative as part of their new mining project in Mokopane, Limpopo.
Recognising the importance of empowering communities to start their own initiatives, the trust was endowed with funds aimed at promoting development among the 20 communities surrounding the mine. In order to properly allocate funding, the trust launched a process of identifying the key needs in the communities and establishing a pipeline of beneficial community projects.
Zutari was appointed in May 2018 to carry out an asset mapping process to identify projects with the potential to benefit numerous people in each village. Some of the challenges that the project team encountered were the distrust and scepticism of the communities, arising from factors such as language and cultural barriers, as well as the political agitators who wanted to derail the process.
Employing the ground-breaking asset-based community development (ABCD) approach, Zutari’s communication and stakeholder engagement team engaged community members through focus group meetings and surveys to find out which projects would result in sustainable community-owned initiatives.
The ABCD method of development promotes sustainability by using assets and skills in communities, so that community members can explore possibilities of establishing future projects to improve their own livelihoods. Importantly, Zutari was able to identify suitable community-run projects, together with individuals to champion them. The surveys assisted with verifying information gathered during focus group sessions.
All research data captured was digitised via surveys on smartphone devices and displayed on a live, interactive dashboard that made use of graphs and illustrations to reflect rich data about the communities. A unique, unplanned result of the project was the creation of community knowledge databases that contain comprehensive data on assets and other information on the communities.
Zutari worked with community members to enable grassroots empowerment and created a structured plan for community members to plan short- and long-term sustainable objectives. The team not only delivered a comprehensive community asset mapping report in terms of the brief from the client but also built relationships with local people and helped to equip them with self-improvement skills.
“It was tremendously pleasing to see the mind shift that community members were able to make as a result of our engagement process. Communities are now open to initiatives and positively empowered to take their development into their own hands,” says Amelia Visagie, Zutari Senior Consultant – Communication and Stakeholder Engagement.
The Bonega Community Trust Asset Mapping Project was the winner of the International Members-At-Large Award for Project of the Year at the 2019 IAP2 Australasian Conference.