Welcome to Umthathi
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.