Umoya Energy Wind Farm, situated close to the historic West Coast town of Hopefield, is home to one of South Africa’s first wind farms. This wind farm’s flagship programme has been benefiting the residents of Hopefield but, with this programme scheduled to draw to a close during 2019, a strategic focus has been placed on expanding socio-economic initiatives to the greater 50km radius towns, which includes Saldanha Bay Local Municipality; Bergriver Municipality, specifically Piketberg; and Swartland Muncipality, specifically the area of Moorreesburg.
An Asset Mapping and Needs Analysis is underway and will recommend beneficiary programmes that are best suited to affect long term sustainable development, within beneficiary communities. The study will include extensive engagements with communities including constituencies, stakeholder and community-based organizations.
“We foresee that the study will facilitate a process in which the beneficiary towns’ community will be able to articulate its priority needs, which will allow us to make informed decisions and map out programmes that are aligned with the prioritized needs, which will in turn deliver maximum change that is not only impactful, but sustainable too,” explained Veronique Isaacs, Regional Community Operations Manager for Umoya Energy Wind Farm.
The Wind Farm’s economic development approach is to empower and strengthen its communities through capacity building, skills transfer and funding of various beneficiary programmes. The aim of building communities’ capacity through the funding of various socio-economic development programmes, is to positively address local skills gaps and needs, and empower the communities to be economically independent and take ownership of their future. The approach is characterised by continuous engagement, the sharing of knowledge and experience, and a focus on relevance and practicality supported projects.
Programme focus areas may include health, welfare, agriculture, water resources, education, subsistence living strategy or biodiversity resources, amongst other things. To-date Umoya Energy Wind Farm’s flagship Hopefield Home Improvement Project, in the town of Hopefield, addressed the wellbeing of local residents, as well as facilitated the creation and development of local entrepreneurial contractors.
The Umoya Bursary Programme aims to contribute towards human resource development in fields considered critical for the South African economy by providing tertiary education funding for youth, residing within the 50km radius of the wind farm. The Wind Farm also responds to the needs of the local schools in the surrounding area through funding of educator salaries, and other meaningful support.