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This study seeks to determine and document the socio-economic impact of the Umzi Wethu programme, which uses nature as a basis to nurture, educate and prepare young, vulnerable people for employment.

Umzi Wethu, a programme conceptualized, managed and implemented by the Wilderness Foundation, is actively using biodiversity conservation as a basis for educating and nurturing young people. The programme seeks ‘to fulfil the employability potential of resilient, motivated youth displaced by HIV and AIDS and poverty by using the power of the wilderness, promoting personal wellness in a nurturing home context, providing credible training, and securing sustainable job placements in hospitality and ecotourism environments – while extending the programme’s social outreach to others’. Few programmes provide a holistic approach that augments relevant skills training with life skills and wellness support, which is especially beneficial for youth who have been made vulnerable by an inherited disparity, poverty and the HIV and AIDS crisis.

The significant socio-economic impact of the Umzi Wethu model is documented in this report. The programme has brought about positive socio-economic development within rural communities in the Eastern Cape. It has resulted in increased levels of education and training and circulation of income within rural regions, youth employment and the general improvement of the socio-economic status of rural communities.

This document is one of a number of publications highlighting NGO good practice and emerging issues from partner organizations supported by Oxfam in South Africa.

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