Efforts to bring relief to South Africa’s mining communities amid the turbulence of 2020 are bearing fruit for 200 families in large mining communities.

Mining communities receive cooking solutions. Image credit: MDA

Mining communities receive cooking solutions. Image credit: MDA

At the end of last year these communities received safer, more sustainable, and more cost-effective cooking solutions to see them through the coming months. The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) together with the Mineworkers Development Agency (MDA) handed over the first batch of 200 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stove systems to families in Virginia in the Free State, and Orkney in the North West Province on the 14th and 15th of December respectively.

“When it became clear that the Covid-19 pandemic would have far-reaching and long-lasting negative effects on indigent urban and rural communities, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy approached us for a relief solution for South Africa’s hard-hit mining communities,” says SANEDI Interim CEO, Lethabo Manamela. “We worked with the MDA to assess community needs and realised that access to energy was a concern especially during lock down, warranting attention.”

While the MDA offers food parcels, a problem arises in the cooking process. The traditional fuels used by these communities are scarce and detrimental, resulting in indoor air quality challenges that can exacerbate the health, risks associated with the pandemic. LPG, on the other hand, is a clean and highly-efficient cooking fuel. It cooks food fast, is easy to control, and has little impact on the ambient air quality. Furthermore, it produces no residue or particulate matter because it undergoes complete combustion.

Due to the Covid-19 limitations, the handover events held earlier this week were attended by a small number of community members, local leaders as well as executives from SANEDI and the MDA.

The MDA’s mandate is to create sustainable livelihoods in areas of endemic poverty. The agency works in tandem with partners such as NGOs and CSI programmes, focusing on providing food security, targeted support to emerging farmers and other job creation micro-enterprises. SANEDI is supporting these objectives through the development and use of renewable energy and efficiency systems that use natural and other available resources to enhance the energy optimisation of operations of these community-based establishments.