The Giant Flag is a world-first green innovation project that celebrates the spirit of South Africa, her land and her people, while bringing together job creation, climate change mitigation, clean energy and tourism.
The Giant Flag will be made up of millions of coloured desert plants, agricultural tunnels, a tourism precinct and a 20-megawatt solar field, on a previously barren tract of land on the outskirts of Graaff-Reinet. Featured as one of the CNN 10 Ideas to Change the World, at 66 hectares the Giant Flag will be viewable from space. The project will not only claim its place as a natural wonder, but also as a new model of economic stimulus for previously-disadvantaged communities.
The township communities in and around Graaff-Reinet have for generations been living on or below the poverty line. Jobs are scarce, many are uneducated or semi-literate, social ills are common, and hard, cheap drugs are pushed throughout the community. The rape and murder statistics equal the national levels, which are high, and the gini coefficient is the highest in South Africa.
Ecologically, the Karoo is semi-arid, and while much of the preserved areas are healthy, many decades of farming and overgrazing have had its effects, especially on the land that makes up the municipal commonage. This includes the land where the Giant Flag is located, which is denuded and eroded. Spekboom, as the original endemic thicket, is an ideal approach to restoring balance to the damaged soil, and will make up the 22 hectare green ‘Y’ in the Flag.
Politically, Graaff-Reinet is a microcosm of South Africa. As the fourth oldest town in the country, all the past inequities were present in the community. The Giant Flag Trust is focusing entirely on addressing the needs of the poorest of the poor, and it is from that group that we hire our staff.
The Giant Flag proposes to create 300 permanent and diverse jobs, including tourism, agriculture, botanical, technological, solar, management and security. 60% employed would be women, which is double the national standard.
It will be the first commercial-scale solar field to harvest water, to be stored in an 11 million-liter reservoir on site.
Leading up to and since its public launch, the Giant Flag has received the support of various sponsors, including Investec Bank, Google, Toyota, Montego Pet Nutrition, the Lottery Foundation, creative agency Nahana Group and satellite company Geo Data Design.
There have also been several government departments adding their support at varying levels, including the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation and SANParks (South African National Parks). We also have strategic partners in the local municipality, Dr Beyers Naude, as well as Nelson Mandela University.
In addition, there have been major media accolades internationally including features in Forbes and Fast Company. Locally, SABC TV and DStv have been media partners to the project.
To find out more about this remarkable project, please visit www.giantflag.co.za