Reconnecting and recalibrating local food systems and eThekwini and iLembe

The objective of this project is to reconnect and recalibrate local food systems that were severely disrupted by the various COVID-19 lockdowns so by ensuring that local food systems that are more resilient to shocks are established.


The project works with small-scale farmer and agribusiness networks situated with­in eThekwini Municipality (largely metropolitan with a mix of semi-rural, peri-urban and urban) and iLembe District Municipality (largely rural). Due to COVID-19, these networks have become disconnected impact­ing on the ability of farmers to produce and sell food to generate income.

The project aims to ensure that these local food systems can function efficient­ly by identifying the smallholders and other small-scale producers’ needs, leveraging appropriate support and re-connecting them to local markets such as feeding schemes and other less formal markets.


Capacity to change pivots on three main focus areas: an awareness of and a reconnection to both natural and human-made systems that support daily wellbeing; a sense of one’s own agency to act and influence this system; and strong social cohesion – social networks of reciprocity and trust (including virtual networks) – to support that action. This focus will enable local food system actors to understand clearly the resources that support their daily lives in the food system: as they become more conscious of these links, they become creative participants in the interaction with and shaping of these systems.

Through ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders in the early phases of this project, the following work streams that could lead to significant food system transformation were defined and enabled:


  • Place based initiatives in uMbumbulu, uMzinyathi (both in eThekwini) and Maphumulo in iLembe. Detailed actor mapping exercises undertaken in each of these areas has lead to the identifica­tion of potential reconnection and recalibration opportunities


  • Ensuring that appropriate food and human safe­ty standards are in place in the recalibrated food systems


  • Enabling an ICT environment that that will best suit the needs of the local farmers, hubs, traders and consumers


Much of the initial groundwork of this project has been based on dialogue, but in order to transition to the action element, a learning journey and transfor­mation lab were held. The objectives of these events were to:


  • Expose the diverse group (including people that have not been part of current activities) to the cur­rent realities, experiences and stories of the actors on the ground
  • Consider the dimensions of power, inclusivity, transparency and democratisation and review the reconnection and recalibration opportunities that had been defined to date
  • Define the barriers to enabling the reconnection and recalibration opportunities
  • Set up transformation teams that will enable the reconnection and recalibration opportunities.


Read a report on the project learning journey and transformation lab here.



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