In Depth Info

Organisational biography

Qala Tala (Start Green) was founded by Thabo Olivier and Anita Venter in June 2012 as a social initiative aiming to address housing and food insecurities in developing countries. Tjaart van der Walt joined the team in August 2013, and Qala Phelang Tala (Start Living Green) came into existence. QPT is currently in the process of registering as a Not for Profit Company (NPC), with Anita Venter, Tjaart van der Walt and Jan Cloete as directors of the company. Thabo, aspiring to further his political career, remains a key stakeholder in implementation of projects related to food security. The intention is to run the NPC in a manner of social entrepreneurship and activism distinctive of QPT, allowing the initiative to grow and evolve organically.

‘Social’ gap

Recent years have seen an increase in research related to sustainable development and the built environment. However, most of the research on the environmental dimension of sustainability of human settlements is focused on applications for middle and high income groups. Given the reality of poverty in South Africa, and housing and food shortages amongst the economically marginalized, there is a great need to find sustainable implementable strategies that can be rolled out on large scale. Human settlement sustainability in developing countries can only become a reality if implementation strategies are developed that embrace lower-income groups in poor residential areas. For this reason, QPT has been created to show that it is possible to develop low-income innovative affordable implementable strategies to raise sustainable awareness in the built environment.

What QPT aspires to achieve

QPT aspires to address core issues hampering the creation of sustainable human settlements. QPT aims to show that it is possible to develop low-income, innovative, affordable, and implementable strategies, to raise sustainable awareness in the built environment. Through the lessons learned in the two research and development sites established in the Bayswater and Wilgehof neighbourhoods in the Mangaung Metro Municipality, QPT implements best practice models addressing housing and foods security in mostly informal settlements and poverty stricken areas. In an economically-dominated society with many unemployed, most people are deterred from self-building and self-sufficiency when it is in fact is a viable, sustainable and replicable option to create vibrant communities. QPT intends to illustrate the value, importance and ease of using appropriate technologies related to housing, food security, water efficiency and energy independence. The initiative is pro-active and aspires to be the change people wish to see in society, instead of simply writing and discussing possible solutions. Interactively, QPT involves and includes the communities through a ‘learning by doing’ approach. Through social engagement, QPT seeks to identify individual ‘change agents’ and empowering them to help create models related to sustainable human settlements that are climate change resilient. By teaching and promoting radical self-reliance, communities are able to vastly improve their quality of life while simultaneously decreasing their engagement in the capitalist system and allowing freedom from many limitations imposed by a government lacking capacity to address these needs. Thus, QPT is not a construction company or vegetable garden business, QPT strives to create successful pilot projects, in collaboration with ‘change agents’, to lead sustainable directions in developing countries.

Funding model / Market

The bulk of the research and development projects of QPT have been self-funded by the founders and made possible through the dedicated efforts of volunteers. Because of time and financial constraints, up until now most building activities is limited to weekends. QPT strives to access private and corporate social investment funding based on the merit of the successful proto types that is created at the Bayswater and Wilgehof Research and Development (R&D) sites. Replication models are based on the research and implementation done at the R&D sites and are intended to pioneer housing and food security technology in mostly informal settlements and vulnerable communities. With QPT’s progression towards external fund-raising the initiative aspires to run full-time during the week.