Vodacom Green Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme: Giving Access To Healthy Food
RedLovesGreen is Vodacom’s commitment to halving its environmental impact by 2025 – and it remains a key priority.
Vodacom is living its pledge to cut environmental impact by 50% with the new Vodacom Green Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme that facilitates the planting of vegetable gardens at ECD centres across the country.
Nourished minds and bodies
The ECD aims to ensure access to food through sustainable farming at these centres. This is essential to improve the quality of life for the children and their communities, explains Takalani Netshitenzhe, External Affairs Director for Vodacom. “The latest figures show that nine million-plus people in South Africa are facing high levels of acute food insecurity. For children, with the basic right to food out of reach, learning often falls by the wayside. Urgent, immediate action is needed through sustainable farming practices that help to reduce these food gaps – now and, in the future – as well as support education while preserving our planet for the next generation.”
Eight ECD centres within Vodacom’s education ecosystem will benefit from a six-step sustainability journey of planting viable food gardens. The centres will supplement feeding schemes while promoting sustainable practices, and contributing further to the company’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) programme.
Sustainable access to healthy food a priority
The first step of Vodacom’s Green ECD journey is to partner with local non-profits (NPOs) and private businesses to help with the planting of vegetables and fruit trees at ECD centres.
To complement these sustainable gardens, the programme will also run educational workshops and sustainable farming training for educators and parents – something that can also be filtered through to families and other community members. This will help maintain the food gardens and ensure sustainable food production while addressing the need for skills development. In addition, educators and parents will be able to use their new-found knowledge to guide children in making better choices for the planet.
Completing the sustainability journey
ECD centres will run on clean solar energy and a sustainable water supply. Each centre has been fitted with a 5 000-litre JoJo Tank to collect rainwater, as well as six solar panels and energy-efficient appliances and lighting. With these initiatives, children can be cared for and educated in safe spaces that have a low impact on the environment and can sustain them.
Produce grown in the gardens, including tomatoes, butternut, spinach, beetroot, and peaches, has been chosen for its nutritional value and ability to withstand varying growing conditions. The food gardens also provide opportunities to supply local vendors and increase access to fresh produce in the area.
Vodacom has already kitted out many of these centres with laptops and tablets, to be used as resources for educators and children on how to follow sustainable practices. This aligns with Vodacom’s education ecosystem approach, the aim being to enhance access to education through digital technology and teach children why caring for the environment is so important.
ECD centres participating in the programme:
Grasar Day Care Centre – Gauteng
Lady Frere Day Care Centre – Eastern Cape
Divhani Community Creche, Hulisani Day Care Centre, Mvelaphanda Day Care Centre – Limpopo
Strydenburg Day Care Centre – Northern Cape
RANS Future Kids – Mpumalanga
Sthandokuhle ECD Centre – KwaZulu-Natal
“ECD is recognised as a national priority in our government’s National Development Plan: Vision 2030,” says Netshitenzhe. “Through partnerships with local NPOs, private businesses, and communities, the Vodacom ECD Green Programme is ensuring children are given the best start in life with appropriate learning material, nutrition, and infrastructure. This supports our efforts in going further together to connect the next digital billion to a better future without a cost to the environment.”