Siyakhona inspires the city of Johannesburg

Posted: January 23, 2011 by Danny Lurie in Alexandra, HillsideDigital
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Hillside Digital Trust’s mantra is “We are one people, we have one destiny, we can make the world the way we’d like it to be.”

Our task is simple, to bring about real change and make a real difference. Our Siyakhona (We can do it) Video Journalists use their skills in film, new and social media as community organizers, they are empowered to engage with their community, identify the root causes of their social ills, organize the community to find the answers and implement action plans to solve the issue together with all role players, stakeholders and partners.

We started in October 2009 and our concept is proving itself as a game changer in community development. There’s been a paradigm shift at the offices of Region E since we presented our call to action video on the rats crisis in Alexandra Township.

To remind you Siyakhona’s advocacy call to action film on the rats crisis so impressed all the regional directors of Gauteng, that they pooled all their resources together, from as far as Orange farm and Soweto. Our film inspired the departments of health, environmental affairs, service delivery, roads, water, the Police, emergency services and others to join our campaign. Over three days they joined us and nine hundred local volunteers in a major clean up and education campaign. The Regional director has since overhauled their entire approach on service delivery. Before the campaign their departments worked in silos, each not knowing what the other was working on. Siyakhona has inspired the city to bring all departments together in an integrated service delivery plan for Alexandra and surrounding areas to combat service delivery issues in a manner that is sustainable and visible to the community.

Herbert and Lucky joined me at the Region E offices to identify the hotspots Siyakhona will focus on for the clean up campaign and rodent crisis; Pan Africa precinct, River Park Precinct, Madala Hostel, Nobuhle Hostel and Helen Joseph Women’s Hostel, how to monitor the project’s impact and get the support of specifically the hostel dwellers as well as the rest of the community. The regional director established monthly Siyakhona task group meetings at her offices. The task group involves representatives from departments of environmental health, housing, PickitUP, Stakeholder management, Service delivery, urban management and ourselves in which we will work together on this and other service delivery issues and implement innovative solutions.

All departments have been briefed on the Siyakhona Initiative and have been directed to submit plans on how they can best add to the project and its impact on the community. Further to the clean up campaign we are also discussing other projects such as recycling, developing green based cooperatives, rehabilitating the Jukskei river, ending tribalism as well as delving into the problem of housing delivery.

Region E will pay the costs of our public screenings, literature and marketing materials and participate in conversations with the community at our screenings. I met with Ephraim; marketing specialist for Region E, he relayed how excited they all are to join the Siyakhona Initiative and add to our work. He believes that joining our grass root initiatives will be far more effective than trying to implement projects developed at management level.

We’ve also been given the go ahead to produce and distribute a Siyakhona Environmental Health DVD on rodent control.

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