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Mpungose Community in Eshowe, Northern KwaZulu-Natal Commits to Visionary Climate Change Action – SAPeople

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Photo by Ryno Nortjie

An inspiring Manifesto by the Mpungose community of Eshowe in response to climate change

An inspiring Manifesto has been drafted by the Mpungose community of Eshowe, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, as a direct response to the devastating effects of climate change. This significant statement of declarations and calls to action paves the way for community-driven responses to environmental matters that negatively impact the daily lives of many South Africans.

Workshopping a ground-breaking document

A dedicated collaboration spearheaded by Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose with the Bezekela Community Foundation, the Mpungose community of Eshowe, and ALL RISE – Attorneys for Climate and Environmental Justice resulted in the first community-based climate change workshop in the country. It was held with the Mpungose Traditional Authority to create the community’s official climate Manifesto.

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The purpose of this gathering was to discuss the impacts of climate change on the community; what responses are being taken on a national level, and what can be done to mitigate the negative impacts both as individuals and as a community. Over 40 delegates; including learners, educators, farmers, and leaders of the Mpungose community; attended the two-day workshop and contributed the crucial points that would make up the Mpungose Community Climate Change Manifesto.

Photo by Ryno Nortjie

Bringing awareness and empowering communities

“At ALL RISE, we’ve noticed a significant gap between national government and local communities, where often decisions are made about community members without their input. This initiative of a Climate Change Awareness Workshop aims to bring awareness to what is being done on a national and global scale to mitigate the impacts of climate change and how we can implement some of these ideas ourselves. We hope that workshops like this will be a way for our communities to be empowered, self-determine their futures, and input on decisions and developments in their areas.” – Janice Tooley – Director and founder of ALL RISE.

The Mpungose Community Climate Change Manifesto

The outcome of this workshop was a ground-breaking Manifesto, which acknowledges the devastating effects of climate change and highlights the need for a community-driven response to this issue. “I set up the Bezekela Community Foundation to really drive initiatives like these. It was wonderful to have a platform for our community to come forward and let their voices be heard on matters like climate change. I look forward to many of these concepts being adopted by and implemented in our community.” – Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose, traditional leader of the Eshowe district and the founder of Bezekela Community Foundation.

Photo by Ryno Nortjie

A call to action

Outlined in the Manifesto are several responsibilities and actions to be taken by the Mpungose community, such as actively participating in the conservation of natural resources and wildlife, promoting indigenous knowledge, participating in global climate action and creating awareness.

The Manifesto also calls on the Government to create necessary policies and plans, work with environmental stakeholders, and uphold the fundamental rights as provided in the Constitution in adherence with Integrated Development Plan Framework and the National Environmental Management Act. In addition, the Manifesto calls not only on the Government, but on businesses and all South Africans to uphold their duty to prevent pollution and other environmental damage to promote conservation and sustainable development for us and future generations.

The importance of a community-driven approach to climate change

Climate change and environmental degradation pose a severe threat to communities worldwide. With each passing day, the world is warming at an unprecedented rate. It has been proven that the effects of climate change are often experienced disproportionately by rural communities that are highly dependent on natural resources, particularly women and children-headed households.

Photo by Ryno Nortjie

“It is vital for us as communities in rural areas to be key role players in what our futures look like. It really starts at this grassroots level with beginning conversations and making changes like this.” – Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose, traditional leader of the Eshowe district and the founder of Bezekela Community Foundation.

The partners involved in supporting the creation of the Mpungose Climate Change Manifesto recognise that more needs to be done to empower and involve communities in these discussions and decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods. “The ability to input on matters that directly impact our lives and our environment is an essential component of our dignity and rights. Without a strong human rights element, protecting the environment, biodiversity and water or adequately addressing climate change issues is impossible. Every member of every community has a right to a safe environment, to participate in discussions, and to be heard.” – Janice Tooley – Director and founder of ALL RISE.

The Mpungose Community Climate Change Manifesto is a real example of a community-driven response to climate change in South Africa. The hope is that many will read the document and strive to implement similar policies in their own communities.

Photo by Ryno Nortjie

This collaboration has been made possible by All RISE – Attorneys for Climate and Environmental Justice and Bekezela Community Foundation in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust. The Manifesto can be accessed HERE.

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