Reconnecting and recalibrating local food systems and eThekwini and iLembe


The objectives of the project are to establish a practical approach to operationalising localised and democratised food economies based on local agency and small enterprises that has been successfully tested and documented in place-based initiatives in three provinces.


In practice this means facilitating greater local sourcing of food for distribution through a variety of channels in ways that support local livelihoods and enhance local agency in the food system, to increase effective access for urban, peri-urban and rural consumers to safe, fresh and healthy food produced by household and small-scale farmers and fishers in ecologically sustainable ways.


The project will also develop and implement appropriate protocols for food safety, food handling and human safety to accommodate the pandemic and basic food safety standards.

The project will be active in:

  • eThekwini, KZN (Southern Africa Food Lab)
  • uMshwathi, KZN (Association for Rural Advancement)
  • Orange Farm/City of Jhb, Gauteng (GenderCC)
  • Bela Bela, Limpopo (Seriti Institute)


These locations were selected as areas where organisations have already been working on community support and place-based initiatives to localise and democratise food systems. The aim is to deepen this work and learn and share across localities.


Seriti’s Work Learn Grow programme aims to support homestead and communal food gardens to enhance access to safe and nutrition food through own production and sales in local markets. The place-based initiatives extend this work by mapping local food systems and bringing diverse actors together to identify key challenges, opportunities and priorities to localise food systems and increase active participation in the local food economy by small enterprises. The overall project takes this one step further by building learning and sharing links between similar activities in different parts of the country with the aim of producing practical models for the involvement of local populations in their own food security that can be scaled up and adapted and implemented elsewhere.

Four partner organisations will work in their own selected localities.


The first step is mapping of local food system actors in the locality including some more detailed interviews with a range of local actors.


The second step is to bring actors and organisations together from across the local food system to discuss key issues and opportunities for localisation and democratisation (participation in decision making) of local food systems. Selected opportunities will then be operationalised with the aim of creating sustainable new local links for the flow of food to local consumers. Cross-cutting issues include food safety training for formal and informal markets, identifying and piloting information and communications technology (ICT) platforms to facilitate easier connections between local food system actors, and some agroecology training and input supply to support farmers in agroecological production. Each partner organisation will host a learning journey and dialogue bringing together local food system actors and partners/actors from other sites to learn about what each other is doing. Throughout the process, efforts will be made to connect with government programmes at multiple levels in an effort to embed activities in ongoing processes with government support for sustainability.

The primary partners Seriti is working with are SAFL, AFRA and GenderCC. Beneficiaries are smallholder farmers, small enterprises throughout the supply chain, and consumers who will receive healthy fresh produce.



Seriti Institute is a development facilitation agency which helps communities and social partners reach their goals by delivering innovative, sustainable, and comprehensive solutions to enhance socioeconomic impact. We do this by providing technical support, programme/project management and implementation, facilitated learning, and through promoting civic-driven change and accountability.


Seriti is a non-profit company and public benefit organisation. The organisation is governed by a board of distinguished professionals and is led by black women. A Level 1 B-BBEE compliant social enterprise, Seriti Institute reinvests surplus revenue from fees-for-service on its programmes and consulting assignments back into community development initiatives. With a diverse range of expertise, Seriti is well-placed to achieve impact at scale. Seriti’s mission is to help communities and social partners reach their goals by delivering innovative and comprehensive solutions.




AFRA is a land rights advocacy non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to support marginalised black rural people, with a focus on farm dwellers. We are working towards an inclusive, gender equitable society where rights are valued, realised and protected, essential services are delivered, and land tenure is secure. We work intensively with communities in and around the uMgungundlovu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and extensively in offering support and advice.



GenderCC Southern Africa – Women for Climate Justice is a non-governmental organization registered in South Africa in 2010 that is working with women, gender activists, civil society organizations and gender & climate experts from the Southern African region working for women’s rights, gender equality and climate justice. GenderCC Southern Africa is part of the GenderCC-International, a network serviced by the organization of the same name, a not-for-profit charitable organization based in Berlin, Germany. GenderCC S.A. has evolved in the context of the global climate change process but its activities, connections and learnings include women and gender experts at all levels (local, provincial, national, regional and International), as well as in policy, research and practical project implementation and capacity building of local community’s in Agroecology.


GenderCC S.A. has been working on different projects that focuses on Climate Change, Gender Equality and environmental sustainability, Resilient Agricultural Practices and Food Security with rural & local communities in all the nine provinces of South Africa as well as the peri-urban and urban parts of the Gauteng Province of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The organization contributed extensively to the South African National Climate Change Response Policy in 2010 where it partnered with various gender and environmental organizations to integrate gender in the Policy Framework.




The Southern Africa Food Lab (Food Lab) is a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together food systems actors to identify and pilot innovative means to achieve long-term changes to the food system through the use of collaborative learning and facilitation. Over the past decade, the Food Lab has successfully facilitated collaboration and dialogue, not just raising awareness, but effectively catalysing action to foster innovations and experimental action towards a thriving, just and sustainable food system. Building on a wide network, from local grassroots organisations to international communities of practice, it brings together diverse, influential actors in regional food systems to respond to systemic challenges in creative ways and to inspire change in how we think about and act on complex social problems in food systems. In essence, this is distilled into “dialogue into action” to drive food system transformation.


Housed at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape of South Africa, the Food Lab is governed by an Advisory Board of unprecedented diversity in the region, comprising stakeholders from corporate, grassroots, NGO, academic, and government sectors, working together to transform the food system from farm to table. They ensure that the design and facilitation of Food Lab processes create spaces to enable transformation by generating innovations that challenge and change existing roles and routines, power dynamics, relations among groups and networks, resource flows, as well as meaning and values across different contexts and scales. The social innovations that emerge are based on emergent ideas coupled with new relationships and commitment.