Lima Rural Development Foundation as the secretariat of the Virtual Livelihoods School Africa: Southern African Chapter (VLSA-SA) in conjunction with Mahlathini Development Foundation has a brief of providing a networking, information sharing and up-skilling platforms for NGOs in the livelihoods and food security sectors and presently consists of a loose network of around 20 NGOs.   The main activities for VLSA-SA are seen to be:

  • Promotion of inclusive food security through the establishment of a community of practice
  • Sharing of knowledge and field experience in the implementation of projects; Joint implementation of projects within a pre-designed systemic framework using an action research approach to enhance innovation and learning while piloting new ideas, processes and methodologies
  • Capacity building; farmer support programmes, creation of sustainable livelihoods and training of trainers and
  • Documentation of best practices for strategic planning and policy processes.

One of the aims is thus to provide learning opportunities for field staff of NGOs and their partnering farmers. With similar goals to the VLSA-SA, a collaboration with the Water Research Commission’s (WRC) Amanzi for Food programme started, where together, they provided a training in rainwater harvesting and conservation (RWH&C) practices focussing on small earth dam construction for networked members in KwaZulu Natal.

Thirty participants from 15 different NGO’s joined the training in March 2016. Day one of the two day training comprised of a theoretical introduction to RWH&C practices via the WRC’s Amanzi for Food website and an introduction to the construction of the small dams and ponds while planning for practical implementation.

The second day was where participants got to put their theoretical learnings into practice, slope and aspect were demonstrated using a line level where diversion furrows were marked and constructed along with a small earth dam, with a capacity of 4000 litres. Along with these RWH&C innovations, a treadle foot pump was set up and used to pump water from a nearby small stream to the garden and pond.

The two day training was successful as NGO participants went away with practical knowledge around rainwater harvesting, storage and conservation for improving livelihoods and food security in a rural context. Future trainings will take place due to the success of this programme, the Amanzi for Food team looks forward to working with VLSA-SA again in the future.


By Lawrence Sisitka and Erna Kruger (Mahalthini Development Foundation)