Sinenhlanhla Dionne Mngadi

Youth Mentors and Developers (YMAD) NPO

What does your company do?

YMAD (Youth Mentors and Developers) NPO, which is an environmental and creative art NPO that infuses socio-economic approaches as solution. This NPO is a youth-led organisation situated and working in the Pietermaritzburg area in KwaZulu-Natal founded in 2016, whose primary focus is restoring the dignity of informal settlement dwellers in the Khan Road vicinity and neighbouring settlements. YMAD’s aim is to shift the narrative of informal settlements as places of environmental degradation and create an environmentally conscious informal settlement for the future. They do this by creating safer, greener, and cleaner informal settlements through participatory community-based activities focused on clean ups, awareness drives and infrastructural development. YMAD has five co-founders (of which four are youth, four are women and all are black). This team of five co-founders comprises a range of various specialists and high levels of expertise within each individual’s work niche. The team also has an active arm of community environmental officers focusing on project implementation across the following disciplines: • Waste Management • Marine Conservation • Water Management • Stormwater Management • Biodiversity Stewardship Farming and Land Management • Environmental Education and Cultural Practices Awareness • Indigenous Forest Conservation and Restoration • Riparian Fringe Conservation and Restoration YMAD's philosophy aims to inform community-based project planning, implementation, skills development, monitoring and evaluation approach on environmental rehabilitation initiatives. There are a number of key features of YMAD’s approach that it is important to highlight: 1. YMAD believes in the importance of building community buy-in to ensure the sustainability of the project. Our team comes from the area so is well-placed to lead this work but YMAD’s role is one of catalyst. Our model is to identify a group of local youth interested in developing into community waste champions. We provide them with the necessary training so that at the end of the project when the Recycling Hubs are launched, the community is equipped to continue running it themselves. YMAD continues to play a mentorship role and is on hand to provide support as and when needed. 2. YMAD values the South African youth as a major constituent in any community, with the ability, skills and the drive to make meaningful contributions, where they live. Therefore, the objective of YMAD’s initiatives is to empower the local youth to be recycling champions of recyclable waste and organic waste, in order to improve the local state of the environment within the community, while creating work opportunities. 3. The projects are designed so that in time, participants can enter into recycling business operations (whether in a form of a co-operation organisation, non-profit company (NPC) or private company) and the community members undergo training programs led by YMAD and partners. Through this green livelihoods' initiative, the youth are given the stewardship responsibility to use citizen science to create livelihood opportunities from recycling, cleaning the environment, researching agricultural outputs of using organic waste, landscaping, restoring degraded ecosystems in their communities. 4.We start small and scale up. Having piloted our methodology in Khan Road, we have learned key lessons and are now ready to expand the project into the other 4 sites. 5. We have a very specific training strategy. Many under-skilled youth empowerment and training initiatives seldom focus on personal behavioural change before project inception and post project closure. This remains YMAD’s signature move. Based on lessons and observations drawn by the YMAD community environmentalists working in various communities, results show gaps in basic personal development, skills and business training. Although these are not described as critical skills, they contribute to the holistic development of the recycling teams and the community, at large. The diagram below illustrates how training activities can be structured, with key skill development areas in the solid, coloured boxes. The floating grey boxes are proposed focus areas for YMAD to maximise opportunities for workplace coping, one-on-one mentoring and more inclusive performance indicator development. The most common parts of training that most programs tend to prioritize are job-specific training and safety-related training, often neglecting social and personal skills development. Through this training program for waste recycling, YMAD is eager to contribute across the training components should there be funding for future training.

What is your biggest success?

YMAD started working with the Khan Road community in July 2021, after some of the households were burnt down during the 2021 South African unrest, which was a wave of civil unrest that occurred in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces from 9 to 18 July 2021. In February 2023 we built a Waste Recycling Hub and have an active team of 12 waste champs in Khan Road – these waste champs are local community members who have been trained to recycle waste and help keep Khan Road informal settlement clean. The aim of the Recycling Hub initiative is to reduce the impacts identified above while creating opportunities for green livelihoods through recycling and self-improvement. YMAD started working with the Mountain Rise community around January 2022 and the first initiatives included Clean-Up Campaigns as the initial step to raise awareness and the importance of converting illegal dumpsites and the environment into productive land. YMAD currently has a team of two senior citizens ladies that are recycling plastic bottles and containers from surrounding formal households and within the community. We have facilitated a partnership between them and a local waste company who are now collecting their waste and remunerating them for it. This has sparked the interest of an additional 10 youth community members who wish to join the recycling initiative and we therefore have plans to expand the initiative at this site. YMAD started working in the Sobantu township at the end of 2019, this was a relationship formed by forum called Siyazuza Ngemvelo which encompassed a community-based organisation that wanted to be assisted by YMAD to open a human rights case against the Msunduzi Local Municipality for the mismanagement of the New England landfill. Fortunately, the case was won in late 2020. Unfortunately, not much change has been visible. Therefore, starting a recycling team and establishing a recycling hub within the community will help reduce the unwanted illegal dumping sites and help reduce the amount of waste that continues to enter the New England landfill that affects the environmental health and air of neighbouring residents. The Sobantu community has experienced first hand the harm and damage that arises from not looking after the environment through illegal dumping sites and the ongoing issues of the New England Road Landfill Site. We aim to educate the community on how they can manage and recycle their waste through transforming illegal dump sites into centers of excellence and create a recycling economy in the process. YMAD has been working on and off with the KwaXimba community since 2018 and as a solution to the illegal dumping within the area, we have been cleaning up five illegal dumping spots located by tributary rivers that feed into the uMsunduzi River. These areas are also in close proximity to some recognised wetlands. We are working towards the establishment of recycling hubs at each of these five sites YMAD NPO started working with the Lidgetton West team in the beginning of 2021, as one of the pilot projects for the Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu stimulus funding sponsored by the Department of Science and Innovation as well as Duzi Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT). Therefore, from the 1 February to the end of October 2021, YMAD had a team of 10 Envirochamps (youth community members) which were based at Lidgetton West but worked within the Dargle Valley area and Nottingham Road, in Howick. We have managed to build 2 recycling hubs (to date) at the Khan Road informal settlement and at the Mountain Rise informal settlement, of which encompass of 10 team members from each community that are using this facility for their recycling business. Currently, constructing the Lidgetton West, Sobantu and KwaXimba recycling hubs.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Attaining PTO agreements and land to build the recycling hubs on. We have been emailing the Msunduzi Municipality and the Umgeni Municipality to assist us with the application process for the P.T.O. of the following recycling hubs; 1. Khan Road under Msunduzi LM 2. Mountain Rise under Msunduzi LM 3. Lidgetton West under Umgeni LM We won't lie, initially when we started the conversations around the P.T.O. application with both municipalities, they were willing to assist. However, we assume the issues start when the employees don't have some knowledge on how they can produce a P.T.O without charging us. Reason being, we are a non-profit organisation that has proposed to establish these recycling hubs within past communal land turned into state land or they are also not sure on who owns the land. In addition, two of these areas have residents that are residing for free without paying rates. We are really stuck on this matter and in desperate need of legal advice on land or property rights in relation to P.T.O. applications.