Rural Development And Its Challenges

by Richard McKenna

22 August 2022

[This excerpt comes from one of our member, Richard McKenna, who is a member of the Don Bosco Past Pupils, Babanango, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa.]

Homes of CARE is a research-based rural community development initiative that is based on a home built with grown then processed plants and trees, that teaches every aspect of "Sustainable Green Living" at home, from correct eating habits to caring for domestic and wild animals, self-sustaining farming, etc., all that the DBGA is actively promoting.

Homes of CARE actively organize activities that help the residents gain the upper hand with the resources that occur in their local area. The activities identified were based on African needs and available resources on site, but can easily be adapted in most areas to suit their terrain based on the specific requirements. The challenge that comes up with these activities is to create the most time in the production of crops coupled with income returns, which amplify shorter-term income returns from the activities. But with the help of SDB Past Pupils in the Southern African (AFM) region involved, the project has become a reality. For instance, the Salesian Institute in Cape Town trained youth in computer skills that can be part of the outreach program, who be employed in the same.

Some activities that were presented along with this plan of action were:

  • Tourism-based agroforestry.

  • Wild game tours and educational activities for school camps. Like the one back at base camp here in Babanango, that holds classroom-type activities for the school children present there. The children will be dressed in green army-type uniforms and will be transported around in army-type vehicles giving them an experience of a lifetime.

  • Workshops for tourism-based crafts.

  • Base camps targeting families and institutions to promote nature conservation. Such as the 'Wilds Warriors' will be exposed to taking care and nurturing animals both domestic and those in game reserves close to the vicinity. There are also nature reserve tours being arranged.

  • Planting, nurturing and harvesting produce for all activities. These can include fruit-bearing or materials-bearing trees or plants that would be selected based on the recommendations of the local government.

  • Income-generating farming activities such as dairies, sheep, goats and chickens.

  • Supply stores for participating farmers and families who deliver their goods to the store easing the financial burden on transport and making it far more economical to deliver and collect. The store will also act as Post Office and Online Bank to act as a point of interest for all the participating people.

  • Processing workshops such as milling plants for bricks and mortars and other farmed produce like maize, wheat, etc.

  • Dicing, freezing and bulk packing of vegetables to improve the shelf life of the farmed produce obtained. At centres where the Salesians already have schools and Vocational Training Centres in cities and towns, the produce can be final packed ready for sales for city needs and export.

  • Transportation services need to be another vocational opportunity.

The above activities proposed layout huge administrative and logistical challenges. These challenges are overcome by organizing a network based on online communication and technology. Financing these camps can be accommodated in two ways: The Government and UN involvement. All this takes expertise and training but who is better equipped than the Salesian Family along with the millions of past pupils and parishioners assisting?

At larger community centres where the Salesian Family already have Academic and training facilities, a training centre can be built that is fully computerized with screen and electronic interchangeable nets for approx 20 sports. A curtain that is housed in the ceiling, when lowered forms a screen for 3D viewing of wild and domestic animals. This was done at the FIFA World Cup in 2010 hosted in South Africa. The lights were switched off and in the stadium, it appeared as if elephants led the teams onto the field. The roof of the stadium had dimming lights to give the effect of stars. Experts tell me that this could extend to all nature viewing. At the back, the back of the stadium is a sewage treatment plant with a water-recycling bay for use in the greenhouse, nursery needs and disposable household.

This would truly be an asset to the Salesian Family to extend their already great strides in academic and skills training programs in towns and cities to their rural areas, online programs and even Church services to make disciples of all nations.

This can be achieved together with the Confederation of Past Pupils. The Don Bosco Youth Net and the Don Bosco Green Alliance and any others who are invited. In the case of where it must begin here in Babanango, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, the Salesian AFM, Bro Clarence Watt as Communications Manager must also be involved.

While each activity does become financially self-supporting it would require bridging support. Certain UN divisions who dwell into programs liked the concept proposed here but would need it to be part of an existing operation to have a more concrete working plan of action.

  • Food and Agricultural Organization of UN.

  • UN Environment Program.

  • UN Sustainable Development Program.

They and other UN departments can be approached for the final research and its implementation.