Feasibility studies determine the viability of an idea, identifying what it will take to turn an idea into action. For this, we need a holistic view of the project, ensuring that it is legally and technically feasible as well as economically justifiable. In essence, feasibility will be able to voice whether a project is worth the investment.
In many cases, the feasibility of the project comes down to numbers – what is the magic number that will deem the project economically viable, or not? But what if financial viability isn’t the prime driver? What if the project is more socially inclined? How do you measure the social impact of a project?
The case of Stellenbosch Municipality: Waste and food security feasibility study
Context: The landfill site is currently a source of livelihood for waste pickers who collect waste for recycling. The number of pickers allowed to access the Stellenbosch Municipal Landfill site is limited to 40 per day. As the landfill is reaching capacity, the municipality is implementing various programmes to divert waste from landfills. Should all the waste minimisation activities materialise, the pickers will be faced with the unintended consequence of limited access to waste materials in the landfill, and hence a decrease in income derived.
The study aims to find out whether it is feasible to implement a waste-to-food programme on the site. The allocated site for the initiative is 1.6 ha of land next to the Asara wine farm and the Stellenbosch landfill.
See below aspects considered in establishing the feasibility of the project:
- Technical feasibility: The outcome was to address technical and market requirements to develop a food security initiative that focuses on air, water and soil quality. Technical requirements reviewed cover costs for implementing needed infrastructure and identifying barriers to entry to engage with the local marketplace. Various forms of farming were explored and considered for the site. These include traditional farming, tunnel farming and aquaponics.
- From waste pickers to small-scale farmers: The process involved a concerted approach to work with the waste pickers and key stakeholder groups to create a collaborative framework. We identified effective ways for the pickers to play an active role in addressing food security and using the selected land. One of the biggest concerns was not the technical change from waste to agriculture and the required upskilling, but rather the unintended consequences on economic and social structure.
Co-creation is a powerful tool. In-depth market research is supported by engagement with a cross-section of experts and thought leaders, to create a meaningful, feasible study for a social-driven project.
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