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Place-based synergies

The Lesedi and Letsatsi Power Projects

The Lesedi Solar Park Trust (Lesedi) and Letsatsi Solar Park Trust (Letsatsi) are dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty by providing support and creating life-changing opportunities within communities. Our goal is to enable children, youth, and families to thrive in all aspects of life.

The disconnect

This explains why the project exists

To address the challenges of climate change and the transition away from emission-intensive energy sources like coal, the South African government has embraced the concept of a “just transition.” This approach recognises that moving away from coal will have negative consequences for workers and communities, and seeks to minimise these impacts while ensuring that the benefits of a zero-carbon economy are distributed equitably. It is within this policy context that the Lesedi and Letsatsi projects emerged.

The Lesedi and Letsatsi projects are community trusts with shareholding in renewable energy power companies, established to ensure that the benefits of the energy transition are shared by the communities affected. These projects align with the government’s commitment to a just transition and provide a unique opportunity to address systemic inequality.

At DGMT, we recognise the potential of these community trusts and support their endeavours. Through our involvement, we aim to demonstrate that investing in individuals from the early stages of life and addressing the obstacles they face can significantly improve outcomes and increase the likelihood of realising their full potential.

The Lesedi Solar Park Trust focuses on communities within a 50km radius of the Lesedi Solar Power Project in the Northern Cape, including Postmasburg, Groenwater, Skeyfontein, Lime Acres, and Danielskuil. Its primary objective is to address challenges hindering positive human development outcomes in these communities.

Similarly, the Letsatsi Solar Park Trust holds shares in the Letsatsi Solar Power Project in the Free State. Its mandate is also to develop communities within a 50km radius of the project, with a specific focus on the towns of Dealesville and Soutpan.

projects_disconnect

The majority of South Africans are stuck in an inequality trap with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Most are stuck in intergenerational loops of exclusion with few chances to escape. Breaking this cycle requires a fundamental change in life trajectories, starting in the womb.

Think of a Möbius strip – just one twist in the circle allows you to trace a completely different pattern. Instead of being stuck on the inside of a loop, you emerge on the outside. In the same way, escaping the inequality trap requires a fundamental twist to set South Africa on a new path.

The twist in thinking

This explains how the project approaches problems
Our vision is to contribute to the creation of thriving communities where every child, every young person, and every family can thrive. We have identified key factors that traditional approaches often overlook, leading to their failure in achieving similar goals. These factors include inadequate investment in early childhood development (ECD) and in later developmental stages, the lack of consideration for family and societal factors, and the absence of a concentrated and coordinated approach. We understand that addressing all these factors in an effective manner is not only costly but also complex, requiring both time and commitment.

That’s why at DGMT, our place-based synergies team adopts collaborative and innovative approaches to drive meaningful change in vulnerable communities. Rather than implementing interventions without considering the context and community involvement, we believe in an effective human development approach that involves collaboration and the empowerment of the entire community. Our approach stands out because we focus on concentrated, holistic life-course interventions within a single community, complemented by widespread participation.

While our initial focus is on early childhood development, understanding the long-term benefits it yields and its potential to reduce the need for costly interventions later on, we also acknowledge that a sole focus on the child is insufficient. Therefore, we invest in later stages of life and work towards strengthening family and societal structures. Strong families play a vital role in fostering healthy human development, but their success is greatly enhanced by the support of a thriving community.

The Lesedi and Letsatsi trusts serve as demonstration sites, where specific neighbourhoods are targeted for comprehensive interventions using a layered approach. Through tangible impact, we aim to advocate for collaboration with other local funders on a larger scale. Our ultimate goal is to support individuals in transitioning from dysfunction and hopelessness to a future filled with hope. 

In addition to our interventions, we invest in addressing the social and structural barriers that perpetuate inequality and trap families and communities in poverty. We carefully assess the unique needs of each community and ensure we understand the interconnected nature of the challenges they face. As catalysts for human development, we strategically invest to drive outcomes. Our approach is outcome-focused, employing various strategies over time, each building upon the other to ensure a cohesive and effective response to the specific challenges faced by the community.

The trajectory change

This explains what the project is doing to make a difference

Our project is dedicated to making a real difference in people’s lives. We have identified four specific goals that drive our efforts and empower the communities we serve, leading to transformative change:

  1. Cultivating community engagement and ownership: We actively involve communities from the outset, ensuring their needs are met and fostering a relationship built on trust. We conduct community consultations and workshops, seeking input and feedback to shape our initiatives. By involving the community, we ensure that our projects are tailored to their unique circumstances and are sustainable in the long run.

  2. Enabling integrated human development programs: We collaborate across sectors and disciplines to implement comprehensive solutions that benefit the entire community. For instance, when focusing on children, we promote not only healthy pregnancies and infant nutrition but also early grade reading and numeracy programs. By addressing various aspects of childhood development, we ensure that children are healthy and on track in their overall growth. We also recognise that challenges within families and communities can hinder childhood development. Therefore, our projects address these issues in tandem, with the overarching aim of long-term human development.

  3.  Creating opportunities for economic participation: We strive to empower community members through initiatives that foster economic participation. For example, we support enterprise development programs that provide training, mentorship, and resources to individuals looking to start their own businesses or expand existing ones. By equipping community members with the necessary tools and support, we enable them to become active participants in their local economy, leading to increased prosperity and reduced inequality.

  4.  Fostering safe and enabling environments: We actively convene stakeholder collaborations to address key issues such as gender-based violence, substance abuse, and other community concerns. Through partnerships with local organisations, law enforcement, and community leaders, we work towards creating safe and supportive environments. For example, we may organise awareness campaigns, establish support networks, or provide training on conflict resolution and non-violent communication. By addressing these critical challenges, we create spaces where individuals can thrive, free from harm and barriers that hinder their development.

These four goals serve as the guiding principles for our work. They ensure that our projects have a meaningful impact, are sustainable, and responsive to the specific needs of the communities we serve. Together, we can achieve lasting change.

Trying to change life trajectories is ambitious and profound. It requires us to radically influence the lives of individuals and to be part of changing the circumstances in which they live.

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