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Community Concerns

Firstly, it is troublesome to group people unaccustomed to living in close quarters with one another, in an integrated community. For many community members, being isolated from their friends and family that they are accustomed to living with on their respective farm’s, would be detrimental to community harmony and ease-of-living. It is proposed that beneficiaries from specific farms be housed in close proximity to one another within the Fairhills Village, as to keep their original communities intact within the new broader Fairhills community.

Yet another concern is crime. It is inevitable that more people housed in close proximity to one another can breed criminal activity and even gangsterism.

From Fairhills Village inception, a community policing forum must be instituted, that works hand-in-hand with Rawsonville Police. They will be the custodians of the community’s safety and be the police service’s eyes and ears within the community, watching for illicit activity and reporting such incidents to the local police for further action. Before criminal activity becomes an issue, such an initiative will deter would be perpetrators from either within the community or from the outside.

The primary cause of gangsterism is boredom, idle-minds and low socio-economic circumstances within the youth. This is combated not only through the community policing forum, but also through the provision of community services, educational facilities, access to SME activity and job opportunities and well as access to sport activities and community initiatives; community farming, craft centre, community event planning etc.

The beneficiaries’ love for music and for weekend festivals and socialising cannot be overlooked when creating a community with a healthy psyche. Thus, it is proposed, with the cooperation of the Department of Arts and Culture, a small outdoor amphitheatre is created. Its location adjacent to the R101 will also attract touristic attention, as to enable the community to hold events where tourists are encouraged to attend and spend their money within Fairhills Village. This also creates a venue for outdoor community events, music events and theatrical performances during the warm spring to autumn months.

The Elderly

An ageing populous is always an issue and their care and access to amenities a concern. The elderly farm-worker has often been a bone of contention in the agricultural industry, where a non-productive workforce member occupies a home built for an employee. This issue is combated within the Fairhills Village with the provision of 36 retirement flats located in the heart of the village.

Often a home is no longer ideal and something smaller for an ageing couple that is easier to maintain and within reach of amenities is needed. The retirement flats located opposite retail activity zones, within meters of the village squares and just south of both the clinic and crèche provide the elderly with all they need on their immediate doorstep.

Proximity to a clinic is vital for the elderly and these units make provision for this fundamental need. Also, the elderly still need to remain busy and engage in community activities, even though they may no longer be of sound body. Thus, facilities like the crèche, community hall and school are located within easy reach, even by wheelchair, to allow ageing men and women to remain part-and-parcel of the community and help out with initiatives in their own way. With retail practically outside their door, shopping will never be an issue. Even opening a coffee shop or “tuisbedryf” (home-enterprise) will be no major physical hassle for the ageing community members.

Bulk Services

This will be the most complicated portion of the infrastructural development for Fairhills Village, as the duties of bulk services provision will have to be shared between private investment corporations, local municipal government, Fairtrade and various national government departments.

Electricity is already on site, with all irrigation being handled with ESKOM powered pumps. Thus, what is required is for ESKOM to connect the site and units to the national grid. It is advised that the Department of minerals and Energy in conjunction with ESKOM provide rebates for the provision of solar water heaters in accordance with their mandate to reduce energy consumption. Solar panels will then be built into each housing-unit’s overall design.

Street lighting will be provided in Fairhills Village, firstly, to reduce individual dependence and therefore electricity expenditure for outdoor lighting and secondly, for security and pedestrian purposes. It is simply dangerous to keep the community in the dark after sunset. A likely supplier would be Beka Lighting.

Streets would systematically be hard-surfaced (tarred or bricked), from the centre of the village outwards towards the residential streets. This is required to keep roads in good condition during very wet winter months and subsequent pothole formation and keep the community from being subjected to excessive dust in summer, negatively impacting sinusitis and asthma sufferers. Also, winter months can become particularly muddy and having the community walk to homes through giant puddles and slippery, muddy roadways is not advisable. Ideally, this project will be carried out in conjunction with the local municipality and the Department of Housing.

Telkom will need to connect the site to their telephone network. Although most community members may conduct conversations via mobile networks, it is needed for the provision of on-site payphones, SME fixed-phone lines and for high-speed internet access for the community, either on an individual user basis, or through internet cafés, community computer centres and for educational institutions.

Refuse removal will be done on a weekly basis by the municipality removing refuse on a predetermined day of the week. The community should be encouraged to utilise the “three-bin-system” whereby plastics, glass and paper materials be picked up by members of Fairhills and taken for recycling, thereby earning money from a sustainable and environmentally sound practise.

Effluent will make use of an AMITEK unit, should the municipality find it impossible to extend bulk sewage services from Rawsonville to Fairhills Village. AMITEK units can be made to custom size and treats effluent through a bacterial decomposition process, whereby, after filtration, DWAF (Dept. of Water Affairs and Forestry) sanctioned grey water is released; fit for agricultural irrigation use.

Water is on site, aquifer water is abundant and mountain water resources are available. Pending a study of water quality and water-consumption levels needed for the Fairhills Village, it will be determined whether any water treatment is needed (however, very unlikely) and whether resources must be augmented through a gravity scheme sourcing drinking water from the Slanghoek Mountains, proximally to the north of the village.

Government Mandate & Future

Service delivery, in particular, service delivery to previously disadvantaged rural communities is a national government mandate. However, with rural populations in South Africa living over millions of square kilometres in isolated settlements and scattered farms, service delivery becomes a logistical nightmare. This is seen in the slow pace of amenities being created for rural communities. The scattered nature of the people in need impedes the rapid roll-out of services and amenities.

Developments such as this makes government’s mandate easier to implement. It makes government’s commitment to service delivery a viable logistically implementable goal. However, a development like Fairhills Village does require the utmost of government assistance, particularly from the Department of Land Affairs and the Department of Agriculture from their all important LRAD and SPLAG grants for landless communities. Amounting to R 111,192.00 per eligible family and beneficiary respectively per grant, the speedy actions of government are of utmost importance.

Alongside these key Departments, the alignment of budgets and planning will be needed from the local government structures, particularly the Breede Valley Municipality. The cooperation of the Departments of Housing, Arts and Culture, Health and Education are of importance to the proper implementation of community amenities and making sure the Fairhills Village is sustainable.

It is envisioned that Fairhills Village become a model for agro-villages for the winelands. Eventually, such integrated villages can exist throughout the Breede River Valley, i.e. one in Slanghoek, Louwshoek, Breërivier, Nuy, De Wet and Stettyn respectively. Rather than government departments having to serve thousands of people over thousands upon thousands of hectares; government will provide service delivery to major towns like Rawsonville, Worcester, Wolseley and a handful of concentrated populations located in agro-villages, owned and run by the previously landless.

There is no reason that this cannot become a model of how government agencies and community organisations can work together to create similar empowerment projects for rural South Africans throughout the nation.

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