Projet Koeksister

The world is facing problems which our current systems cannot fix. If Covid-19 and weather events like droughts have taught us anything, it is that our communities are not strong enough to cope with shocks to our economy, load shedding and extreme weather events like floods and droughts resulting from climate change. Even before Covid-19, we experienced inequality, joblessness and poverty, which have only become worse.

We then have two important questions to ask ourselves:

1. How can we create towns that are strong enough?

2. How can all the people in a town or region prosper?

‘Resilience’ explained:

“Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties.” It should not be seen as a way to avoid the worst that can happen, but rather as a way to change how we live and to create models and systems that will boost equality, while taking care of the environment. More than that, resilience should not be seen as a way to avoid the worst outcomes but rather an opportunity to change the way we live and to create economic models which are more equal while looking after the environment.

We understand that people around the world are fixing some of the problems by working together using community-led solutions. However, many of us are not actively involved in decision-making and planning for our towns and regions.

For South Africa, we need a local model of economic development that takes these factors into account. This model should try  to answer the questions of how we can create towns that are resilient and how we can help all the people of our towns to prosper.

What is Koeksister Economics? 

We believe a local model of economic development that creates resilient towns, while allowing both people and the planet to thrive should be made up of three concepts. We have called this model of economic development Koeksister Economics. The Koeksister is made of three strands or sections which we plait together to form a Koeksister or a local model to build a workable economy for our towns. The three concepts are:

1. Doughnut Economies

2. Transition Towns

3. Commoning

1.    Doughnut Economics

The book Doughnut Economics was published in 2017 by Kate Raworth. She looks at an economic way to cope with mankind’s 21st century challenges by trying to identify humanity’s long-term goals and the financial thinking that will allow us to achieve these goals. Visually, these goals are shown as two circles inside one another forming a ring, the ‘Doughnut’. Raworth (2017) explains that the Doughnut simply shows two conditions – social and environmental – that support a balanced world in which people and the planet can thrive.

The social side is the inner ring formed from 12 social aspects, based on social concerns raised in the United Nations 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. In this vision, no one falls into the hole in the middle of the Doughnut. The ecological boundaries are shown by the outer ring, coming from nine planetary boundaries of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Between the foundation and the ceiling lies ‘the safe and just space for humanity’ (Raworth, 2017, p. 9), although most countries which face social poverty still operate far from this safe space. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Brussels, among others, use ‘the Doughnut’ to guide their municipal policies and programmes.

Click on the image above to view it in high resolution

2. Transition Towns 

The Transition Town movement started in 2005 in the UK, responding to climate change and peak oil. But its strength lies in reworking the humanity’s challenges into a positive way to do something new and special. Now it is a movement of communities rethinking and rebuilding our world. There are currently over four thousand Transition Towns all over the world and the network continues to grow.

The Transition Towns movement approach focuses on:

  • Localisation: a shift towards making  or growing goods nearer to consumers, especially food production, energy generation and building materials. This framework will allow the return of national, regional and local organisations and economies that meet real human needs, but not at the expense of the natural world on which all life depends. This does not mean isolation but rather cooperation.
  • Resilience: putting in place a structure which enables communities to be able to withstand shocks, while rethinking the local economy and meeting local needs.
  • Low carbon: creating projects and companies which are not dependent on fossil fuels to function or to produce goods and services.
  • Community assets: where possible, it is about bringing assets (land, businesses, creation of power, buildings) into community ownership, putting them in control of shaping their future.
  • Natural limits: knowing that we don’t live in a world where credit, resources, and energy are endless.
  • Not purely for personal profit: different ways of doing business are taking place, like social projects, people working together for a common goal, and those focused on social return.


Saldanha Bay (Saldanha, Langebaan, Hopefield and Vredenburg) Community Members Attended Community Workshop 

The Transition Towns movement has developed the REconomy Project. REconomy uses tools that allow communities to build financial cases for what they do. The Economic Evaluation tool predicts how much income and how many jobs a localised economy might produce. The localised economy focuses mostly on food production, the creation of power, modifying buildings and an economy that cares for its community. For example, the Totnes & District Local Economic Blueprint planned their food economy, recognising that up to £22 million leaves the local food economy each year and that modifying homes in their district to use less energy could produce £26 million. While investing in local renewable energy technologies could result in more than £6 million worth of energy for households and investors each year. By implementing the REconomy Economic Evaluation Tool, we will answer the following questions:

  • What kinds of incomes and businesses are needed in a carbon-constrained, economically harsh and unequal society?
  • How can we create conditions to relocalise (build again a society based on local production and consumption) small-town economies?
  • What are the possible positive and negative effects, of relocalising the economy of a town focused on food production, energy generation, retrofitting buildings, and the care economy?
  • What is the job creation possibility of relocalising the economy in towns in South Africa?

The Koeksister project will look at four key areas in Saldanha Bay Municipality:

  • Food
  • Energy
  • Modifying existing buildings
  • An economy that cares for its people

The project will use public information to draw up a picture of what each area could be worth to the local economy if we grow the demand for the products and services of local independent businesses and use a supply chain closer to home. For each area, we will find possible job creation points in the supply network and the economic effect for local and regional development. We will also identify the barriers to relocalising for each area. We will also look at exits points for money in these four key areas to understand how money moves within the Saldanha Bay Municipality.

MAAKSAAK Resident Group – Advocating For A Transition Town

MAAKSAAK Resident Group – Ecotourism Local Business

MAAKSAAK Resident Group – Vroue Aan Die Beweeg Verskaf Voedselprodukte


3. Commoning 

Commoning is the care the community feels for its resources and for the community itself; social standards and customs to ease and resolve conflict, to encourage working together and to punish those who don’t follow such rules. The concept of commoning is based on work by Elinor Ostrom who argues forcefully that other

that stable institutions of self-government can be created if certain problems of supply, credibility, and monitoring are solved.

Communities create social activities actions that manage access and avoid the abuse of common, pooled resources such as land, oceans, and the internet.

A resource + a community + a set of social rules: the community has an interest in managing the resource and the social rules are there to help manage the resource for the benefit of all members of the community.

Ostrom came up with a number of principles of how communities can manage common pool resources and these have subsequently been refined by the Prosocial Team.


Koeksister Project Insights Into The Food Value Chain In Saldanha Bay Municipality

MaakSaak Submission To Saldanha Bay Municipality Integrated Development Plan (Soumission de MaakSaak au plan de développement intégré de la municipalité de Saldanha Bay)

Safe and Just Operating Space for South Africa: National and Provincial Doughnuts

Saldanha Bay Municipality Plans and Tourism


We extend profound gratitude to our funding partner for their support. (Click on the above logo or image to visit their website)