Qala Tala going strong

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CHRISTOPHER MOTABOGI

Between 40 and 50 vegetable gardens will be established at households in Mangaung this month (September) in a bold move to alleviate poverty. A lecturer at Free State University’s Centre for Development Support, Anita Venter, says the project is part of a bigger informal settlement upgrade project being undertaken in Mangaung this month. “We are networking a lot with the Central University of Technology (CUT) to get their Built-Environment Department involved. They have invited us to come and give them a presentation on what we want to achieve,” says Venter. She is also co-founder of Qala Tala (or Green Start) an initiative that aims to promote sustainability by encouraging collaboration in the Free State to seek better ways of co-existing with the environment by for example, seeking alternative energy sources. Venter has just returned from Italy where she attended an International Labour Organization academy Sustainable Enterprise Development Course, which aims to assist upcoming businesses and non-governmental organisations to prosper. “For two weeks I was learning a lot about community engagement and the business environment. I’m not a business person; so it was quite enlightening for me,” says Venter. She has advised people in the NGO sector to obtain some business skills, “if they want their NGOs to be taken seriously”. Venter says she feels strongly that the academia doesn’t take enough responsibility with regards to community engagement and community implementation and that there’s also a big focus in academia currently to be more money-orientated, where one has to bring in projects and generate one’s own salary. “I don’t have a problem with that, but I do think that as an academic institution, your community responsibility should be one of your key priority focus areas,” says Venter.

Qala Tala at a glance:
Qala Tala means to start green. The entire concept is based on 5 pillars:
1. Water security/efficiency
2. Food security
3. Sustainability
4. Energy security/efficiency
5. Recycling

Products tested through the Qala Tala initiative:
1. Solar products
2. Pneumatic products
3. Wind energy products
4. Irrigation products/methods
5. Cultivation products/methods
6. Recycling products/methods
7. Construction methods
8. Energy efficient appliancesw