Urgent funding needed for Macassar dunes project

12 August 2002
THE MACASSAR Dunes area on the Cape Flats has been identified as an area of high conservation value – a scenic, undeveloped coastal area with considerable tourism and recreational potential, particularly in view of the impending establishment of a tourism cultural centre and market in nearby Khayelitsha.

The potential of the area was explored during a year-long, unique partnership project between UCT's Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU), local government (represented by the Cape Metropolitan Council and the Tygerberg Administration) and a non-governmental organisation, the Khayelitsha Education Resource and Information Centre (KERIC).

A lot of effort, time and expertise invested in the project now stands to go to waste if funding for the implementation phase cannot be found and continued until entrepreneurial activities are established enough to sustain themselves.

The Macassar Dunes Co-management Demonstration Project initially received funding from the MCM DEAT Poverty Alleviation Fund to generate employment in the process of enhancing the conservation status of the area. The aim was also to enhance the environmental management capacity of relevant stakeholders and resources users and to assess the feasibility and preliminary costs of developing tourism, recreational and educational facilities in the area. In addition the establishment of a representative, accountable and legitimate community-based management structure for the area was initiated.

With the support of the Working for Water and Ukuvuka programmes, 84 hectares of coastal dune vegetation in the Macassar area was cleared of both alien vegetation and illegally dumped waste materials. Workshops and training courses conducted by the EEU were used to create awareness about the economic potential of resources in the area and the concept and principles of integrated coastal management.

According to Shona Young, a researcher at EEU who participated in the demonstration project, it has laid a solid foundation for the implementation of a larger, longer-term project which will ensure the long-term conservation of the area and generate employment in the area through the implementation of the recreational and eco-tourism initiatives identified, as well as through educational facilities for schools in the area.

A key outcome of this demonstration project has been the establishment of the Macassar Dunes Co-Management Working Group (MGCMWG) that was mandated by the constituencies to implement various projects. These included the development of an eco-trail and a basic educational facility; the implementation of an on-going alien vegetation clearing and rehabilitation programme; awareness raising, training and capacity building for various groups; as well as the appointment and training of community monitors to provide a safe and secure environment.

Young says all participants realised after a year that co-management projects are long-term, ongoing and iterative. They also learned that involvement of diverse users and stakeholders in resource management projects is a costly and time-consuming process.

"One of the valuable lessons we learned was that funders need to be willing to provide ongoing support if the benefits of establishing such co-management arrangements are to be realised."

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