Unemployed “able-bodied” Atlantis and Nyanga residents are soon to be put to work by the provincial government in a work-for-food scheme it says will go a long way towards alleviating poverty.
The initiative is being spearheaded by MEC for Social Development Albert Fritz and is based on Brazil’s poverty alleviation strategy.
The project would be piloted in Nyanga and Atlantis from the end of next month, Fritz told the Cape Argus.
He said that millions of rands were spent on feeding schemes and soup kitchens, which were abused by strong, able-bodied unemployed men and women,.
Under the new scheme men and women aged between 18 and 35 would be required to work for between three and five hours a day for food vouchers and a “sustainable” stipend.
“Two mass kitchens will be opened in the two pilot areas, where seniors, the disabled and those who cannot work can come for meals,” Fritz said.
“But able-bodied men and women will have to do a few hours of work for a decent plate of food and a daily stipend…This project will restore dignity for many. They will feel they have done something to earn a (meal) and a sustainable stipend, which has yet to be determined by the department.”
Fritz said work would include cleaning in parks and open areas, chopping down trees, and packing wood. There would be filing and other office duties for the less physically able and for young women.
Later, training and skills development workshops would begin, so that some of the unemployed could assist the provincial government in identifying illegal shebeens, help with research and even provide security at stations or on trains, Fritz said.
He said Chrysalis Academy graduates living in Atlantis and Nyanga would be among the first to benefit. “We will, over the next few weeks… draw up a list of unemployed able-bodied persons,” he said.
The idea came from a meeting between Fritz and Brazil’s Deputy Social Welfare Minister, Romulo Paes de Sousa, in Pretoria last month. “This system is working in Peru, Brazil and other parts of South America. I am convinced it will work here.”
Fritz said the system would avert corruption. Last year, his department closed two feeding schemes in Khayelitsha because of maladministration.
“We’ve had cases where the managers of soup kitchens defraud the department. Having mass kitchens at central points will help us manage the funds better. Community groups can collect the meals at the central points or we will even deliver meals.”