Spotlight on Poverty Stoplight

Over 30 million South Africans are affected by poverty, the most vulnerable being women and minors living in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Taking steps to help alleviate the problem in the Eastern Cape, Kouga Wind Farm has joined the Poverty Stoplight movement as means of understanding the challenges faced by local communities and how the wind farm’s socio-economic development(SED) programme could play a role in facilitating meaningful change.

Poverty Stoplight is an approach that helps people progress out of poverty by empowering them to understand and map their own choices and can play a major role in the upliftment of impoverished communities.

Using a simple digital survey tool, the programme encourages households to participate and own their journeys out of poverty, providing a clear view of how to get there while at the same time allowing organisations delivering support to measure progress against their programme objectives.

“We were introduced to the programme through networks such as Clothing Bank in Cape Town. We then met the Poverty Stoplight team to better understand this wonderful concept and were so impressed that we decided to pilot the programme in our area,” says the wind farm’s economic development manager Trevor Arosi.

“For the first phase, we opted to profile the households of the Rainmakers and bursary programmes funded by our SED programme, covering areas where we already have a footprint in terms of priority need communities.

“However, our team of facilitators can also reach other communities should the need arise.
“Going forward, we also hope to forge partnerships with local government and sector departments in the implementation of the programme in the form of data collection, analysis and intervention.”

Boniswa Orleyn of Port Elizabeth-based partner Bophelo Impilo Development Centre says: “Simply put, we are using the guidelines drawn up by Poverty Stoplight so that we can help residents take steps to permanently eradicate poverty from their lives.”

The BIDC, which is running the project on behalf of the wind farm, recruited volunteers from KwaNomzamo, Sea Vista, Kruisfontein, Umzamowethu and Jeffreys Bay to participate in a one-day training session run by Poverty Stoplight, Cape Town.

A total of 25 people, including BIDC staff, were trained to profile the households of the 98 Kouga Wind Farm beneficiaries.

The newly-trained facilitators then set up hour-long interviews with participating families.

“We go into homes and ask one member of the family to hold the tool (tablet) and read out the three indicators. He or she then clicks on the colour indicator that best describes the circumstances of the household. The indicators are 50 in total,” Orleyn says.

For example, a family might be red for security (I’m stuck), yellow for physical health (I’m struggling but trying) and green for electricity (I’m doing ok).

“Each household is left with a scorecard that reflects how they scored (how many greens, how many yellows and how many reds) and an action plan based on 5 to 10 identified priorities.

“This is meant to help move the reds and yellows to green over a period of time. The beneficiaries can be profiled again a year later to assess progress.

“The beauty of the tool is that it affords those being profiled an opportunity to take a good look at their own situation. It becomes an eye-opener to them on things they take for granted and then taking a conscious decision to change their circumstances for the better.”

“What is important to remember is that being poor does not define you. It is not who you are, it’s the circumstances you find yourself in. What we are hoping to achieve is for people to realise that the main protagonists in fighting poverty are the people caught up in the cycle.”