Press Release: Asiye eTafuleni honoured internationally

Durban NGO a finalist in global impact competition: WRI Ross Prize for Cities

Respected Durban NGO, Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) is one of the five finalists in the inaugural US-based global competition, WRI Ross Prize for Cities, for their intervention work in Warwick Junction. 

From an extensive field of nearly 200 applications from around the world, AeT is thrilled to be one of the finalists.  They join innovative projects from Colombia, India, Tanzania and Turkey on the shortlist – projects chosen for their transformative impact on cities in multiple ways, including economic, environmental and social change.

It is a huge accolade for AeT to be one of the top five projects selected from around the world. This small interdisciplinary NGO was founded by city officials working for the municipal urban regeneration project, Patrick Ndlovu and Richard Dobson in 2008. They were concerned with the widening gap between the city government’s urban agenda and the realities faced by Durban’s inner-city informal workers – a large and historic downtown community.

The award acknowledges Asiye eTafuleni’s work in the Warwick Junction precinct: an inclusive space for informal workers in a city seeking spatial justice. They have been working alongside municipal officials and informal workers to resist inappropriate redevelopment and cooperatively transform the city’s most vibrant market area.

“This urban evolution is notable in that it has sustained and stabilized thousands of informal livelihoods for over 22 years, whilst simultaneously embedding more equitable and participative city-making processes that are engaging informal workers and municipal officials in progressive and innovative ways,” said Richard Dobson, Co-Founder and Project Leader for Asiye eTafuleni.

Asiye eTafuleni now engages with deeper and evolving trader needs that have arisen as a result of their achieving the right to work in this space. Their programme supports informal workers through legal advocacy and equipment design as well as responsive and innovative infrastructure that repurposed public space in order to support sustained livelihoods. This was made possible by encouraging continued local government support. While individual incomes are often still modest, traders support families living in the poorest parts of the city. Traders provide essential goods and services to nearly half a million daily commuters. Together these incomes and activities contribute significantly to the urban economy.

“We are excited that Warwick Junction and urban informality has been publicly affirmed on such a prestigious international platform alongside four other worthy and ground-breaking projects. Being in the top five from over 200 submissions is an achievement in its own right!” said Dobson. 

Patrick Ndlovu shared, “AeT being amongst the top five finalists globally is a great achievement for informal workers, the city of Durban and South Africa as a whole. This gave AeT and informal workers, as well as city officials, a platform to showcase the achievements, failures and learnings to reflect on going into the future. Aluta continua! Amandla!”

This competition was in pursuit of “Transformative projects that change the form and function of urban economies, environments and communities.”  With the support of business leader and philanthropist Stephen M. Ross, WRI Ross Center is awarding the prize to one transformative project that has ignited citywide change. The jury of distinguished global leaders, chaired by Stephen M. Ross, will select the first recipient of the WRI Ross Prize for Cities. One winner will receive the $250,000 inaugural prize at a gala awards dinner later this month. (10 April 2019).

The competition brief says: “They open our eyes to new possibilities by overcoming bottlenecks, leveraging investments, or offering new and scalable approaches to solving well-known problems. They impress hope and excitement. And their impact extends beyond the initial site or intervention, catalysing positive change throughout a neighbourhood or city,”

“We know cities need to change. We also know that people are finding new ways to build thriving, healthier, greener neighbourhoods every day,” said Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “We hope these projects, each of which has had an outsized impact on their cities, help people understand what’s possible.”

issued by: Illa Thompson [Publicity Matters] (8 April 2019)

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