Most members of staff in the Community Development Programme are actively involved in community-based initiatives. The Community Development Programme has one collective, flagship community-based initiative, currently known as the Kenneth Gardens Intervention Project.
Kenneth Gardens is a municipal housing estate, providing subsidized housing for people (mostly families) who are unable to afford market related rentals. Kenneth Gardens was first established in the early 1940s as a housing estate for ‘poor whites’. During the apartheid years, residents of Kenneth Gardens were received a fair amount of attention from government departments, and the estate was kept in good condition. While a range of social problems have always existed within Kenneth Gardens, these have intensified in the past 20 years. Kenneth Gardens is now a ‘neglected space’ and residents complain that there is no proper maintenance of buildings and a complete neglect on the part of social welfare services.
There has been no intervention by non government organizations in Kenneth Gardens, nor has a single independent research report been written about Kenneth Gardens. This is somewhat odd given the close proximity of Kenneth Gardens to the University (about four kilometers) and the fact that it is the largest municipal housing estate in Durban.
The UKZN Community Development Project, after consultation with a range of stakeholders and the residents’ committee, have embarked on a series of outreach programmes within Kenneth Gardens. These range from the establishment of a public health care facility, to a cultural programme for children and youth, to a scholarship programme, to an urban agriculture project.
This project has brought together academics and students from a range of disciplines at UKZN, but has also created partnerships between the Community Development programme at UKZN and a variety of disciplines at the Durban University of Technology including Nutrition, Horticulture, Urban Planning and Architecture, Sports, and Management. Other active partners include the Ethekwini Housing Department, Turquoise Harmony Institute, local schools (particularly Glenmore Primary), the DA Ward Councilor and the ANC Branch Executive Committee.
The Kenneth Gardens Project provides students from both UKZN and DUT with a ‘space’ to conduct community outreach work, practical work and research. All of this with the full support of the residents of Kenneth Gardens, via the Kenneth Gardens Resident’s Association. Kenneth Gardens is within walking distance of both DUT (Steve Biko Campus) and UKZN (Howard College). The UKZN Foundation is the official fundraising body for the Kenneth Gardens Project and all funds raised for the Project will be held and audited by the UKZN Foundation.