The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has invested more than 100 million rands ($5.62 million) in supporting sustainable development projects in the Southern Africa region, the state-run aid agency has said.
"We have conducted 69 projects since our Pretoria office started operations in 2018 to date. This year, we focused on projects supporting sustainable development with a focus on education, training and agriculture,” TIKA coordinator Abdulkadir Abukan told Anadolu Agency (AA) in an interview in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.
Abukan said this year they installed a greenhouse project at a school in the northeastern Mpumalanga province to enable learners to gain skills in agriculture and agribusiness, and also support the school feeding scheme.
"We did a similar project in Lesotho last year, where we installed greenhouses at five schools,” he said, adding they contain a water tank and a drip irrigation system, with seedlings and other agricultural materials.
He said TIKA plans to continue supporting greenhouse projects in schools in South Africa to back school feeding schemes and train learners.
Early this year, TIKA donated a digital fabrication lab to Johannesburg’s Wits University. It also provided training for 3D design, modeling and fabrication to the academic staff at the engineering faculty.
Participants of the training program received their certificates from Turkish Ambassador Ayşegül Kandaş and Wits University Vice Chancellor Zeblon Vilakazi.
Abukan said TIKA has also recently renovated and refurbished the beauty salon of Golden Steps Special School, which will offer hairdressing and manicure training for learners with special needs. The school was looted and vandalized during the July 2021 protests in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
"Before the end of this year, we hope to provide a kitchen to a school in Mpumalanga, a science laboratory to a secondary school in Johannesburg, and upgrade the electric workshop for an institute in Cape Town,” the TIKA coordinator said.
TIKA also joined the South African National Teaching Awards and will provide two mobile libraries before the end of 2022.
A library will be donated to the Siviwe School of Skills in the Western Cape, whose principal Yolanda Lupondo awarded excellence in the Special Needs Leadership Award. The other library will be delivered to Empangeni High School in KwaZulu-Natal, whose principal Sizwe Desmond Zwane was awarded excellence in Secondary School Leadership at the National Teachers Awards.
Last year, the Turkish development aid agency launched training to empower women entrepreneurs with skills in e-commerce and others for businesses.
"We held training in various South African provinces including Gauteng (which consists of Johannesburg and Pretoria), North West, Free State and neighboring Lesotho.”
Abukan said they have already completed training for more than 100 women entrepreneurs whom they hope in the future will become trainers or partners in their projects.
Last year, TIKA distributed seeds, fertilizers and insecticides to help farmers in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West province get healthy and abundant crop yields and increase food security as well as alleviate poverty.
"Later this month we shall be heading to Zambia to train more women entrepreneurs,” he said.
In Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, TIKA donated equipment to help the Agricultural Ministry in diagnosing poultry diseases. They also donated embroidery machines to development centers for women’s empowerment.
TIKA also said in Malawi they distributed food hampers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year and are planning to have more development projects in 2023.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, TIKA distributed thousands of personal protective gear to several hospitals and governments in the region.
TIKA has renovated several hospitals in Lesotho and South Africa, also renovated historic mosques in South Africa, reviving cultural ties between Türkiye and South Africa in the Western Cape region among others.