Game-changing initiative to curb job loss in informal settlements
With youth unemployment on the rise, plastic waste destroying the environment, and a general lack of skills keeping our youth out of the labour market, South Africa was facing multiple crises before the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic continues to ravage the economy, the vulnerable youth and women living in the informal settlements are bearing the brunt of the damage.
The lack of access to warm, running water and basic sanitation makes it difficult for them to follow the proposed COVID-19 guidelines, leading to an exponential spread of the infection in these communities and further job losses and instability.
The Lulalab Foundation – the social impact branch of Lulaway – has come up with an innovative and strikingly simple initiative to address these issues. Known as the Letsatsi Water Project, it creates sustainable employment and provides sustainable and free hot water to the most disadvantaged communities.
The idea is as follows: Using a simple solar-powered plastic geyser made of empty plastic bottles and other recyclable materials. This way, households in the informal settlements will now have a free supply of warm water that does not use fossil fuel and does not require on-going electricity or costly installation fees.
The implementation of this project will be tasked to unemployed youth – skilling them to assemble, install and maintain gravity-fed solar geysers in informal settlements, using recycled materials. By training youth to assemble, install and maintain solar-geysers across these households, the youth gain an income and increase their future employability.
By using recycled materials that can be effortlessly sourced anywhere, these geysers can be easily produced in large numbers at an affordable cost, thus providing our communities with warm water for washing.
30 households in Hopefield informal settlement in Soweto now have these geysers installed as part of the pilot phase of the project.
As the production of the geysers increases, new jobs will be created. Recyclable materials will need to be collected and the geysers will need to be manufactured, produced, distributed, installed, and maintained, all resulting in many new skills being learnt and job opportunities being gained, while also protecting our environment from excessive plastic waste.
CEO of Lulalab Foundation, Errol Freeman, says that the proposed intervention aims to provide an innovative solution to address the current challenges facing people daily in informal settlements and assist in providing unemployed youth with the opportunity to manufacture, install and maintain gravity-fed solar-powered geysers within their community.
“With the successful execution of the pilot project, the second phase will be implemented to scale the project transforming sanitary conditions in informal settlements and up-skilling the youth and creating micro-entrepreneurs. Our next step is to secure corporate CSI strategy so youth and communities can get the benefit of this incredible concept,” adds Freeman.