The community of Hawston is generally
very poor and the majority of employed individuals work in fishery related
industries, the service sector and construction. Hawston has gained an
unfortunate reputation as the capital for abalone poaching and smuggling
in the Western Cape. Vandalism and gangsterism is also a feature of life
in the town.
This community based project aims to address some of the underlying
socio-cultural aspects through social and educational programmes and the
poverty problems through job creation within the tourism sector.
When Hawston-people talk about the past, the idea of becoming an abalone
diver was looked down upon by many Hawstonians.
Divers did not earn much money, they had very little training, they were
seen as uneducated, etc. More than ten years ago, this all began to change
and suddenly those who were looked down upon were the people earning the
most money. This happened because instead of just delivering abalone at
factories, post-1994 saw divers gaining more and more knowledge about the
export market, formed their own companies and began to export the resource
themselves, helped by new legislation. There was, at the same time, also
an unprecedented rise in poaching activities because several people began
to see how financially lucrative the abalone market was, and for many
years the Hawston community was divided along the lines of “commercial
divers” and “poachers” (some of this becoming violent at times).
The Hawstonians who
started the Hawston Abalone Village project give the following reasons for
why the project emerged two years ago:
- We were concerned about the lack of
tourism in Hawston; particularly when seeing tourists speeding past
Hawston to Hermanus.
- We were concerned about the image of
- We wanted the economic and social
benefits of tourism, but we also wanted to begin to address the problems
of the poaching of marine resources, the negative effects of gangsterism
in the area, etc.
- We wanted tourism to be seen as an
alternative way of producing income for families.
The idea is that in the process of
developing an integrated community resort project the issues of
gangsterism, poaching and vandalism will be addressed in a holistic and
appropriate manner and that the actual development of the project will
employ as many Hawstonians as possible. The eventual entrepreneurs
operating within the resort should also come from Hawston. This implies a
big social development, training and mentoring aspect to this project. It
is not just about building a resort that would benefit a few.
The project is a community-based project
in that community members initiated the project and in the ways that the
section 21 company set up to drive the project has worked on including
community members. The Section 21 Company will use any profits from the
resort for future social, environmental development work within the
community of Hawston.