A delegation of senior officials from programmes of the Department of Social Development in the Northern Cape Province visited the Mhani Gingi Centre of Excellence in Athlone, Cape Town, in March 2019 to learn from the organisation’s best practices and innovation.

The learning visit on 7 March was led by the Chief Director, Mr Ichabod Manyane: District Management and Institutional Support.  The other officials were Zgdah Andrews, Fanie du Plooy, Desiree Makweya, Shireen Mohamed, Letsego Mothata and Lungiswa Sokatsha.

The Centre of Excellence, which was launched in 2018, showcases innovations created by Mhani Gingi to include persons with disabilities (PWDs) in urban agriculture and methods used by the organisation to transform under-utilised spaces and recyclable materials to useful means.  Innovations on display include wheelchair pathways, vertical container gardens and growing tunnels with raised plant beds which allow people in wheelchairs to participate in urban gardening.

A vertical herb garden at Mhani Gingi.

The purpose of the Northern Cape delegation was to undertake a learning benchmark visit, together with the Department of Social Development in the Western Cape, to explore areas to improve efficiency, learn from best practises and innovation as well as to address funding and monitoring challenges faced by organisational partners of the Department of Social Development.  This is according to Debbie Dreyer, Director: Partnership Development at the Department of Social Development in the Western Cape.

The visiting delegation from the Department of Social Development in the Northern Cape Province viewing innovations at the Mhani Gingi Centre of Excellence with Tabisa Mahlathi, Flagship Programme co-ordinator (centre).


“The delegation found the visit to Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children very exciting and inspiring and indicated they will be contacting Mhani Gingi to explore partnerships in the Northern Cape province on food security, vulnerable groups and sustainable development and the green economy,” said Dreyer.

Mhani Gingi’s Centre of Excellence was established in Athlone in 2018 in collaboration with the Saartjie Baartman Centre. This followed the relocation of the Mhani Gingi Organic Herb and Seedling Nursery to the site in 2017.

The Mhani Gingi Nursery Team creating a hanging garden from recycled containers.

Support from the Department of Social Development in the Western Cape assists Mhani Gingi’s efforts to combat poverty through managing 22 community food gardens established by the organisation in the greater Cape Town area.  The Mhani Gingi Nursery supplies supervision and training to provide food security and income for members of vulnerable communities who maintain the gardens. A stipend is received through the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) of the National Department of Public Works for the community gardeners.

The vertical herb garden can be reached by persons seated in a wheelchair.