SU ‘strikes gold’ with document

A formal document describing the needs and assets of the community in Kayamandi in Stellenbosch was introduced and discussed at a meeting of the Community of Practice of the Division for Community Interaction at Stellenbosch University (SU) on Thursday, 2 August.

Mr Jacob du Plessis hands the Community Needs Assessment and Asset Mapping profile of Kayamandi to Prof Julian Smith, Vice Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel (Photo: Henry Africa).

The Community Needs Assessment and Asset Mapping profile of Kayamandi, compiled by Mr Jacob du Plessis, Prof Lindy Heinecken and Mr David Olivier of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University (SU), was compiled to be a resource for the University, other institutions, community organisations and community members to assist them in making more informed decisions about issues affecting the residents of this area.

The Community of Practice is a discussion forum with the aim of sharing ideas and experiences, increasing awareness of activities within the University, providing support, facilitating collaboration across disciplines, strengthening SU’s community interaction as a whole and facilitating the creation of new knowledge.

Mr Du Plessis formally handed over the document to Prof Julian Smith, Vice Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel, at the meeting

“In Olympic parlance: We’re striking gold with this,” Prof Smith said.

“The Division for Community Interaction is committed to compiling profiles of communities where SU has a concentrated footprint. Community profiles of Swellendam (conducted by SU’s Department of Psychology) and Avian Park, Worcester (conducted by SU’s Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology) are already available. A profile on Cloetesville, a suburb in Stellenbosch, will follow shortly,” he added.

“In the spirit of reciprocity and open access, the profiles will also be made available to all community partners, including Stellenbosch Municipality,” Smith said.

Dr Jerome Slamat: Senior Director, Division of Community Interaction, also emphasised the importance of this document.

“People always ask us: ‘But what does the community say?’ This is the voice of the community. There are limitations, but this is a slice of reality.”

Mr Du Plessis, who was one of the principal researchers on the project, explained that this information is vital for academics and students who wish to conduct research in these communities, but do not know the actors, the level of trust associated with them, or which organisations are working on which issues.

“The researchers also sought to establish who the community leaders are, what economic and business ventures exist within these communities and what community members regard as the greatest challenges affecting their livelihoods. Information on this can aid and assist community intervention initiatives,” he states in the report.

“This report represents the findings of PHASE 1 of the study, i.e. the ‘community voice’ of residents’ needs and the resources that they know and access in the particular community. PHASE 2 (to be completed at the end of October) will involve a verification process. The final product will thus include a complete database of information for Kayamandi.”

Some of the findings include:

  • Church and sport are the two greatest reasons for group involvement.
  • A great number of individuals from the community are identified as community leaders. These individuals can be grouped roughly into those that are involved in politics, community development and the church.
  • The most commonly stated challenge in Kayamandi relates to service provision (in order of most mentioned first: electricity, housing, water and sanitation). Unemployment and poverty, crime (house robberies) and substance abuse were also identified as big problems.

The document also reports on the involvement of individuals, family and friends in community groupings, and the identification of voluntary groups, formal institutions that assist local communities, economic and business ventures in the community and organisations and institutions that help with needs.

  • The document is available here.