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EPWP jobs uplift communities

Written by Samona Murugan
The community of Temba in Hammanskraal has reason celebrate after 53 of its unemployed residents were chosen to provide fencing around the Tshwane Dam in Temba.

The project ensures that they earn an income and for some of the 53, it will the first source of income in many years.

The project forms part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), created by the Department of Public Works (DPW).

The beneficiaries will, for the next few months, be involved in a series of projects, which include erecting a game fence and security access gates covering a perimeter of 5 500 metres around the dam and various greening community projects.

Mandla Mthiyela, 24, says the new project will bring much needed relief to his family. “With the money I earn I can buy food and clothes for my family, baby formula and nappies for my new born baby.”

According to Gauteng Public Works MEC Qedani Mahlangu, the dam has claimed many lives.

There are no recreational facilities in the area, so residents often swim in the dam and many have drowned as a result.

She added that criminals also use the dam for illegal activities. The new fencing will not only help keep residents and children safe but also keep criminals at bay.

The new project was launched as part of the first ever National EPWP week, which ran from the 28 November to 4 December 2013. The week was part of a campaign by DPW to raise awareness of the benefits of the EPWP and how it is changing the lives of poor and unemployed South Africans.

During the week the department launched other projects across the country, including the roll out of cleaning projects in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape; a grape and vegetable production project in Limpopo; the launch of a youth service programme in Thulamela and a Working on Fire project in the North West.

About EPWP

Launched by government in 2004, the EPWP was created to ease poverty and provide income, work experience and skills development through job and work opportunities for unemployed South Africans. At the time, approximately 40 per cent of South Africans were unemployed and the need for job creation was urgent. To address this, the Growth and Development Summit, which took place in June 2004, allocated R100 billion for employment-intensive public works projects.

Coordinated by the DPW, the EPWP projects are run in four sectors - infrastructure, social, environment and culture and non-state sectors.

The infrastructure sector works in partnership with the Departments of Transport, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water Affairs, Mineral Resources and Energy, and employs people to work in construction and maintenance.

National Youth Service

Key EPWP infrastructure programmes include the Vuk’uphile project, which currently trains people as contractors at NQF level 2 and supervisors at NQF level 4; the National Youth Service which is a year-long skills training and development intervention that equips unemployed youth with technical and life skills training; and the pothole and road maintenance project.

The social sector has created EPWP projects to help deliver government’s services through national programmes like the Early Childhood Development, which educates and cares for children at a crèche level, Home Community Based Care provides basic health services to people in their own homes and the School Nutrition Programme which employs community members as food handlers to provide food to children from needy families.

The Community Crime Prevention project employs volunteers to be active in helping identify community safety priorities for their neighbourhoods; the School Mass Participation employs sports coaches to encourage communities to participate actively in sports to live a healthy lifestyle and the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign helps teach adults across the country how to read and write.

Cultural heritage

The environment and culture sector EPWP projects employs people to improve their local environment and surroundings. The sector focuses on building South Africa’s natural and cultural heritage. Its flagship programmes include employing people as part of its waste management, tourism and creative industries; parks and beautification; coastal management and sustainable energy projects.

The non-state sector programme is a new component of the EPWP that uses wage subsidies to support non-profit organisations in their community development initiatives. The Department of Cooperative Governance manages these.

All the EPWP projects are designed to benefit the communities and create jobs for the unemployed. The jobs created aim to help government reach a target set by President Jacob Zuma - 11 million jobs by 2030. In 2008, the EPWP achieved a major milestone by providing one million work opportunities for the unemployed. By June this year the EPWP would have created over three million work opportunities across all its four sectors