WEST COAST SNAIL INDUSTRY
The initial loan for the Clanwilliam Hibernation Facility was paid in three installments: April 2006, June 2006, and September 2006.
Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Coalition of the Urban Poor (CUP), and Community Resource Organisation (CRO).
The Poor People’s Movement (PPM), The Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), Dorka Snails (Clanwilliam), and West Coast Savings Groups (Klawer, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal).
Phila-Ngokuzenzela, IBIS, MitonOptimal, Elezane Industries.
Development Capital: 80,000 Rand (IBIS)
Theunisen Andrews aka Bumper (CUP): +27 79 1905124
In 2002, the Department of Social Services’ “Rapid Review of Vulnerable Areas in the Western Cape” demonstrated that many West Coast communities have an extreme lack of economic opportunity (particularly for women), limited essential services (healthcare, food security, transportation, education) and a culture of debt amassed to cover basic living expenses. The study concluded that without a significant strengthening of the economic base, any future investment in the infrastructure of these cities would simply “improve the living environment of the people, but not decrease their dependence on social and welfare grants, nor improve their ability to earn a living wage.”
With the introduction of savings into West Coast communities (Klawer, Clanwilliam, and Citrusdal), neighbors have been combining their money to create a grassroots social security program, generating a pool of resources to be used as a loan fund for basic needs. Participants have been able to pay off debt, plan ahead for emergency expenses, and decrease dependency on government grants. These savings groups, however, are not only concerned with the collection of money, but also the collection information about communities. When the West Coast savings groups meet, they discuss local challenges and develop solutions. One such solution to the limited economic opportunity in the region has been an innovative and widely publicized snail harvesting project, enabling 100 women to access an income, gain basic economic skills, and stimulate development in their region. Combining community development with environmental sustainability, snail harvesting also allows farmers to decrease the use of pesticides, preventing the destruction of the local ecology.
In 2000, the Poor People’s Movement (PPM) initiated savings groups in the West Coast. With the support of CORC and CRO, the West Coast saving groups held exchanges to increase their knowledge of economic development opportunities in their region.
In 2005, the West Coast savings groups formed a partnership with Elezane Industries, a black economic empowerment business, specializing in the export of snails to gourmet food companies abroad. Needing a constant supply of live snails, Elezane hires community groups to harvest and sort snails in fertile regions. After training the West Coast savings group members, Elezane agreed to purchase all snails produced in the region. The West Coast savings groups then, negotiated contracts with local farm owners to harvest snails on their property. The farmers, in turn, agreed to decrease the use of harmful pesticides.
The construction of the Clanwilliam Hibernation Facility has greatly improved the chances of success for the West Coast Snail Industry. Given that snails can be kept alive for several weeks in the Hibernation Facility, the cost of transport has been greatly reduced – larger quantities can be transported to Elezane less frequently. These developments have encouraged the expansion of the industry and the employment of several hundred women.
The West Cost Snail Industry has successfully run for one full season, enabling the snail harvesters to learn the trade, develop contracts with farm owners, and expand production. Even so, earnings from the project have been minimal because of two main challenges: the control of the Clanwilliam Hibernation Facility and the high cost of transportation.
Cooperation of Clanwilliam
Currently, the project is undergoing structural transformation. The Klawer, Citrusdal and Clanwilliam harvesting groups are organizing the Clanwilliam Hibernation Facility as a cooperative. In an effort to eliminate the middle man and maximize the profit for all stakeholders, the groups have decided to share the running costs and collectively own the Clanwilliam Hibernation Facility. The earnings of each harvesting group will first cover the costs of the facility, and will then be divided up among the workers. Although DGRV (an NGO specializing in the establishment of cooperatives) has offered its services, this transformation will take additional funding for legal, financial and technical support.
Social Benefits for the West Coast:
Economic Benefits for the West Coast:
Environmental Benefits for the West Coast:
Benefits Beyond the West Coast: