How will Blikkiesdorp be affected by the new Airport

Posted in Blog

The residents of Blikkiesdorp have been working on a yearlong campaign to gain access to information about the City of Cape Town and the Airport Company South Africa’s plans for their relocation.

The Blikkiesdorp community is made up of people that were previously moved to the area by the City of Cape Town as a temporary housing solution: however they have now discovered that the City of Cape Town has further plans to move them and yet none of the members of the community had been consulted or informed of these plans despite it being their right to know if they are to be relocated.

A large aspect of the Blikkiesdorp community’s concerns are the plans between the City of Cape Town and the Cape Town Airport to expand and improve the airport runways. With ODAC’s help, the Blikkiesdorp Leaders (the Blikkiesdorp community’s elected representatives) learned of a public meeting about the development plans for Cape Town’s Airport, and while attending that meeting discovered that while an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was being conducted, the Blikkiesdorp community had not been taken into account in this report as they were thought to be moving any way.

ACSA had made plans to move sections of the community, starting with the Freedom Farm residents as they were in the way of the new runway.

The community called for transparency of the plans and for the release of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the City of Cape Town and the Airport – it was this pressure that resulted in the approval of the release of the MOA by the major of Cape Town.

The MOA sets out the plan for the development of alternative accommodation for the residents – but there seems to be no plan to deal with the increase in noise from airport – which will exceed international guidelines and will affect over 387 000 people and 177 schools.

An additional problem with the plans in the MOA is that the City of Cape Town intends to move the residents to an area that will still be affected by the high levels of noise. Through their campaign to gain access to information and greater government transparency, the community now knows what the City’s plans for their future. But they still do not know when they will be moved, and how they will be affected by the noise from the airport.

To see what areas will be affected fill in your address or drop a pin on your location:

 

 

Noise and the way it is experienced is very subjective, and while the overall community attitude about a noise level is usually what is reported, some individuals will be much more sensitive, and others much less sensitive to the sound in question.

The effects of nose exposure:

Noise exposure has been known to induce tinnitus, hypertension, vasoconstriction, and other cardio vascular effects. Beyond these effects, elevated noise levels can create stress, increase workplace accident rates, and stimulate aggression and other anti-social behaviors.

The most significant causes are vehicle and aircraft noise, prolonged exposure to loud music and industrial noise. Research into the effects of noise have been extended beyond auditory effects to include non-auditory health consequences. Hypertension is the most biologically plausible effect of noise exposure and noise seems to cause a number of the biochemical and physiological reactions, including temporary elevation of blood pressure, which can be associated with other environmental stresses.

To find out more about Blikkiesdorp watch the documentary here: Is Blikkies home? A documentary about transparency and access to information

(Development credt: The Airport Noise app was developed by Code4SA. Click here to find out more about the Code4SA organisation.)

 

South Africa's 2015-2016 African OGP Agenda

Posted in Blog

Yesterday, 29 October 2015, ODAC were honoured to attend the Grand Opening of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at the exquisite Belles Artes, Mexico City. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the hundred in attendance with a focused and clear vision of how South Africa will hold the position of Chair of the OGP in the upcoming year (the full text of his talk is already available here).

There were very many interesting takeaways, However  for ODAC in particular, it was the mention of the African Peer Review Mechanism that piqued our interest, given that today at the OGP Summit in Mexico at 3pm in Room Bernardo Quintana we will be presenting a panel (alongside Henry Maina of Article 19 and Thokozani Thusi of Public Services and Administration) entitled: "The OGP and Other Mechanisms: Competition or Partners?". Ramaphosa stated:

"We believe there is a lot we can learn from how the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) conducts its business and ensures open, collegial, and equal participation of countries that partake in it.
 
Through the African Peer Review Mechanism, the African continent contributed significantly to the formulation of the goals and targets of the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. History calls upon all of us to respond to people’s basic needs such as food, water, sanitation, healthcare and education."

The happy co-existence of mechanisms has not always be 'given' by different critics. Yet, particularly as the incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 has been such a focus of this Summit, considered insight needs to be provided. It was with this in mind that ODAC completed a comprehensive piece of research into the question. Our main takeaways were:

  1. The OGP has a particular - and necessary - focus on transparency and the forwarding of accountable government.
  2. Review mechanisms can be harmonised, but particularly if - when commitments under the OGP are drafted - there is adequate consultation and considered incorporation.
  3. The focus on the improvement of the provision of data through the OGP can directly contribute to the measurement of indicators in other systems.
  4. There is a systematic series of questions, revealed in the report, that can assist in determining how different mechanisms might complement and differ.

For more insights, join us today at 3pm in Room Bernard Quintana.

 

 

Blikkiesdorp Documentary Launch

Posted in Blog

A conference is being held by ODAC today, the 23rd, at the Townhouse Hotel titled: “Alternative accommodation” in South African constitutional law – Does Blikkiesdorp meet the standard?” Symphony Way Temporary Relocation Area, otherwise knows as Blikkiesdorp,  was built in 2008 by the City of Cape Town with the goal to fulfil the City’s constitutional obligation to provide adequate accommodation in the case of evictions or emergencies and to facilitate informal settlements upgrading.

The structures are called Bliks by local resident. Is what local residents call ‘a blik’ acceptable alternative accommodation? The units in Blikkiesdorp are built up in a block structure of 18 blocks, which are separated by dirt roads. Most units are prefabricated steel framed units complete with internal thermal insulation. The material is not only very easy to break into, which contributes to the already high crime rate, but it also lacks insulation: Blikkiesdorp is known among the residents to be either extremely hot or extremely cold. Is that acceptable?

We will be using this event as an opportunity to launch a short documentary documenting the work over the last year to access information on the future of Blikkiesdorp at 4pm today. We will share this here soon!

APAI Victory: one step closer

Posted in Blog

- by Gabriella Razzano
ODAC have been involved in the African Platform on Access to Information Working Group for many years. In fact, our Head of Legal - Gabriella Razzano - currently sits as Chairperson of the Group. The Working Group of APAI is a network of civil society organisations that are working on the promotion of access to information in Africa. It was set up in 2009 to develop a platform for joint activities around ATI.

One of the fundamental goals of the group has been for the adoption by UNESCO of a dedicated Right to Information Day (which we currently informally celebrate on 28 September 2015). After significant lobbying efforts by the Group over the last few years, victory is almost in sight. Yesterday the Executive Board of UNESCO adopted a Resolution containing a recommendation to the General Conference to adopt September 28 as International Access to Information Day. You can download a copy of the Resolution here to learn a bit more.

The Resolution will now go before the 38th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference, which will take place in Paris from November 3 to 18, 2015. The adoption seems inevitable at the stage - but is wholly attributable to the fine advocacy work of the Working Group. Congratulations to all involved!

Our 4 key lessons "so far" on social media

Posted in Blog

- Gabriella Razzano

Non-governmental organisations can be surprisingly slow to adapt (well, perhaps not surprising to all). Particularly when it comes to social media and marketing, there seems little energy to adapt and utilise this consistently shifting but powerful world to forward our work. Recognising this gap, in 2013 Indigo Trust and ODAC undertook a project to bring together different ngo's to work on our social media through workshops. These proved enlightening and inspiring for many of us (groups such as Fundza Literacy Trust, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, Code for South Africa and others), but still we needed more! Last month, again with the support of Indigo Trust, we began one-on-one sessions with digital consultants to forward our missions. This service, provided by the wonderful Nicky Cosgreave and Katie Findlay of Edge Digital in Cape Town, has proved hugely empowering and inspiring. After almost a year of workshopping, and a month of one on one content, here are the top four lessons ODAC have been privileged to takeaway "so far":

1)    We are natural communicators

Non-governmental organisations often treat their social media and marketing as an after thought or chore. We forget that communicating our message on awareness is in fact a core function in a human rights activist organisation. We should allocate time and personnel accordingly. Our work is actually easy to translate for messaging, and organisations like ours are rich with content – we just need to think clearly about how to communicate on our work consistently.

2)    There’s no need to recreate the wheel

One of the biggest complaints consistently harangued by ngo-types on social media is the “we just don’t have the time”. As a jump-off from point one, we should make the time. But more importantly, it doesn’t need to take a lot of time: you can be re-packaging content in creative ways, rather than repeatedly creating new content from scratch. Also, by setting aside a few hours every month to set up a social media plan ahead of time in which everybody can also share the load, you won’t have an excuse when the month gets busy.

3)    Spend a little and get a lot

Another common complaint is cost. However, most social media platforms are free. Further, there is immense power in spending even a tiny amount of money on Facebook, in particular, if you want to build your audience. In our first boosted post (and with only ZAR 70), we reached 1600 people, which was massive considering the small size of our audience at the time. As ngo’s, we should be specifically fundraising for social media and marketing within each project proposal. Funders understand the importance of exposure – we should too.

4)    Results are measurable

A week after having our first session, we had doubled our page likes. Our posts now see considerable audience engagement, as well. And our website traffic has improved – since the same period in the previous year, we have seen a 10% increase in overall users and a 20% increase in visits. A further incredible encouragement for us, given that we are legal experts and content specialists, is that we are seeing visitors spend almost 15% more time on our website and 26% more time on individual pages, meaning they are finding new information they like. Our blog posts have also started featuring more heavily as the “most visited” pages.

As an organisation with a strong research department, it is encouraging to be able to measure our progress and then convert our learning into improved practice.