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Case Story Details


Organization Name

Nestle S.A.

Case Story Title

Nestle ECOLINK Partnernship Project South Africa

Case Story Date


Issues Addressed

  • Principle 1 - Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights
  • Principle 2 - Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses
  • Principle 3 - Businesses should uphold freedom of association & effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
  • Principle 4 - The elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour
  • Principle 5 - The effective abolition of child labour
  • Principle 6 - Eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation
  • Principle 7 - Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
  • Principle 8 - Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
  • Principle 9 - Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

Case Story Category

Internalization Project

Countries of Impact

South Africa

Case Description

EcoLink was formed in 1985 with financial and management assistance from Nestlé South Africa. Its purpose was ? and still is ? to assist rural communities improve their quality of life by giving people practical training to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. EcoLink is a non-profit organisation active in environmental education near White River in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. It was established in 1985 by Dr Sue Hart after a five year period of pioneering environmental education within the then KaNgwane, now called KaNyamazane, area. EcoLink was set up in response to community requests for a widening of the education process at grassroots level.In 1985, Nestlé teamed up with EcoLink to launch an innovative programme known as the Earthcare programme. This programme, formed with Nestlé?s support, combines sustainable and environmentally-friendly techniques with practical skills for the benefit of the community, while taking into account local conditions, which have gradually deteriorated over time. The programme includes activities such as trench gardening demonstrations, permaculture, health and nutrition workshops, the use of appropriate rural technology, recycling and HIV/AIDS awareness.Over 105 000 people benefit from this programme every year.When the project was implemented in the district of KaNgwane, many acres of land were littered with plastic bags, metal cans and refuse. Not only was this a depressing sight, but it was also a potential public health hazard. This presented a challenge to the EcoLink team to put their skills to use and show the people of KaNgwane how to turn this environmental liability into an agricultural asset.After collecting the cans and refuse, the team showed community leaders how to dig a 45cm-deep trench, about the width of a standard door. They then took the cans they had gathered and placed them at the bottom of the trench, laid the paper and refuse on top of the cans, replaced the soil, and planted vegetable seeds. The first vegetables sown in the KaNgwane trench gardens were carrots, lettuce and other easy-to-grow vegetables. No fertiliser was used since the refuse added at the beginning of the process served as natural compost.This EcoLink programme is demonstrated in schools, where children are encouraged to create their own trench gardens. The vegetables grown are often used to feed the school children. The schools ensure that the skills are transferred to the parents, too.Over 150,000 villagers in South Africa were delighted to discover that they could feed a family of five for four months with what they produced from just one of these gardens.By creating more gardens, they could feed the same family for a whole year. Once the potential of this exciting new methodology was realised by the villagers, they established more gardens, resulting in surplus food which they sold to earn an income.The programme has proved to be so successful that EcoLink has held numerous workshops, attracting participants from all over Africa. Requests for information are also pouring in from other parts of the world, including Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and South America.The EcoLink Earthcare and water harvesting programmes are financed by Nestlé South Africa. Since inception, Nestlé has provided funds amounting to nearly R5,2 million. This funding covers the costs involved in managing the entire programme and incorporates salaries of the project manager and trainers, actual training costs, materials and equipment required to implement the project, vehicle/transport expenses, follow-up and evaluation of projects, and an administration fee not exceeding 10% of the overall budget. More recently Nestle UK has funded a water harvesting project as an extension to the programme supported by Nestle South Africa - the first payment was made in 2002 with an additional contribution in 2003 to continue the project*Earthcare Target group: Unemployed rural women, who have received training in: Trench gardening and Permaculture; Nutrition; Basic Health Care incl. HIV/AIDS Awareness, waterborne diseases etc; Organisational management, money management, marketing; Baking and cooking incl. Cooking with soya due to protein deficiency especially in children, budgeting etc.

Women?s groups on communal land: 20 new groups are started each year.

Number of women directly trained per year on average:

Number of dependants directly benefiting: 4200 per year

Women?s groups at schools: 5 Groups are started at schools each year. There is an average of 800 pupils per school thus 4000 pupils directly exposed to the training per year.

Women?s gardens at clinics: There are currently 10 operational gardens at clinics.

Number of women directly trained: 300

Number of dependants directly benefiting: 2100

*Teachers Target group: Rural teachers, who are trained in: Gardening; Environmental education and how to incorporate this into all school subjects; How to start up school and community projects e.g Regular clean up campaigns in villages and at community water sources, erosion control projects etc.

The nominated teachers that attend workshops then go back to their various schools and share their knowledge with the other teachers. An average of 10 schools are targeted per year with an average of 800 pupils Youth Clubs (Peer educator training)

*Target group: Rural Youth. 2448 youth have passed through the youth club system. This programme has been running for the past 7 years. Training includes: Trench gardening; Aids Awareness and prevention; Adolescent reproductive health; Environmental education.

Young people are trained as peer educators and then have to conduct training courses to schools and other youth clubs.

*Artisan Skills Training

Target group: Unemployed rural Youth, who receive training in basic artisan skills that enable young people to go back to their community and start small scale business ventures. This programme started in 1995, we have trained 9 cycles of trainees ( 12 per cycle) = 109 trained.

*Water tanks

Water tanks have been constructed at various community gardens, clinics, schools and pensioners paypoints.

Total number of tanks constructed: 400

*Other Income Generating Projects

Chicken houses: 4 groups

Fence making: 4 groups

Baking and cooking for profit: 15 groups


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