Welcome to Umthathi

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Umthathi Training Project, is an NGO, based in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province and was founded in 1992 to provide skills training to craft producers from the Grahamstown townships. Its services rapidly expanded and by mid 1993, Umthathi was being directed towards self-sufficiency training through research into the training needs in the Eastern Cape, coupled with requests from local communities.

The Community and Home Food Gardening Programme was initiated in 1993 with members of the Grahamstown Township. Participants came from a cross-section of impoverished communities including several informal settlements. In 1998, the 3-year School Gardens Programme was started in 4 township schools and now services 40 township and rural schools. Umthathi was registered as a Non Profit Organisation with the Department of Social Development in October 2000.

In 2001, the organisation began working with rural communities and townships in a 150 km radius from Grahamstown, which extended to a 200 km radius from 2004. Work on the concept of the Africulture Programme began in late 2003 in response to increasing scarcity of wild indigenous medicinal plants and the development of draft legislation affecting traditional healthcare and biodiversity conservation in South Africa.

  • Umthathi’s target beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor, often lacking formal education and having lost much of their traditional education system, who live in the peri-urban areas and the small rural towns and villages in a 200 km radius from Grahamstown.
  • Women, children, HIV/AIDS sufferers and the unemployed are the principal beneficiaries

Each year, Umthathi trains over 3,000 community members and school learners in cultivation, health and livelihoods skills. During 2009, 15 community groups, 40 schools and 5 THP groups were part of our training. All our beneficiaries are required to take these skills home to their families and to transfer these skills to as many people as possible. From our post monitoring and evaluation sessions it is believed that over 12 000 people benefited directly and indirectly from our training programmes last year.

The success rate of our interventions varies from area to area and from group to group, however through our own and independent evaluation studies it is realistically estimated that following the training 60% of our participants continue to use the knowledge and skills they have learnt.

Food systems are the unifying concept.

“From plot to pot”, participants learn how to grow, tend, harvest and prepare nutritious seasonal produce in the garden and the home.

The experience promotes the environmental, social and physical well being of the community and fosters a better understanding of how the natural world sustains us.

Links with home gardens reinforce the concept and open the way for the exchange of knowledge and experience between the participants and the community.

Umthathi provides quality, innovative and accessible training to vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the Eastern Cape.
Umthathi is adaptive and responsive to the needs of the community through facilitating linkages and ongoing mentoring support.
The mission is based on the following principles: Pro poor, pro women, pro youth, adult education methodology and respect and dignity for all.
The mission of the organisation is carried out through the following programmes:
Community Training.
This enables sustainable health by training community members in cultivation, nutrition and livelihood skills so they can feed themselves and their communities as well as earning an income by selling excess produce from backyard and community gardens. Training is offered in its most basic and practical form so as to benefit rural beneficiaries who don’t have the advantage of an advanced education.
Training and Support on Integrated Community Healthy Living (TSICH).
TSICH is an approach geared towards ensuring that Umthathi’s work is fully embedded in the community dealing with specific community needs and driven by the community. Five communities are supported and mentored by Umthathi over a period of a year with a clear exit strategy. The following are the key steps that inform TSICH:
 Scoping exercise for community readiness.
 Baseline study.
 Identification of households.
 Profiling of households.
 Nutrition and food security assessments.
 Engagement with stakeholders.
 Establishment of thriving household and community gardens.
 Access to markets.
 Exit strategy.
“Umthathi” is the Xhosa word for Sneezewood and in the Xhosa culture it symbolizes strength and renewal of life. This is the ideal underlying of our vision, which is to reawaken the skills that lie dormant in poor and disadvantaged communities. People need to be reminded that they possess the strength to change their lives and those of others. By gaining more skills they can better their own lives and ultimately use these skills to train others thereby not only creating alternative sources of income for themselves but also uplifting the lives of others.
Founded in 1992, Umthathi is a non-profit organisation based in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Our training involves food and health security, brings an element of income generation to sustain the use of these skills and contributes to the preservation of indigenous plant life through knowledge of  biodiversity and climate change.
Umthathi’s target beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor in rural and peri-urban areas of the Eastern Cape within a 200km radius of Grahamstown.
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