In October, wildfires ripped through the Garden Route, killing seven people and destroying more than 90 000 hectares of land. But the fires also showed us how community development can uplift and strengthen societies.


How the community came together

After the devastating fires, government, NGOs and community members banded together to support the thousands of people who had been affected. The George Municipality set up a disaster management centre in the town, where various fire departments and Working on Fire employees coordinated their efforts. More than 600 firefighters were involved in battling the blazes.


Emergency services were overwhelmed with donations from as far afield as Cape Town. Individuals, large companies and small businesses contributed so many supplies that the George Fire Department closed its call for donations after just two days. “The George Fire Department thanks our generous communities for all the donations of supplies to firefighters. The response was overwhelming and we now have enough to last us for the next while,” the department said in a press statement.


More than 400 people were evacuated from the homes, with community centres opening their doors to accommodate them. Many of the remarkable efforts in responding to the fire were led and coordinated by the everyday heroes working in community organisations. As the victims of the fire seek to rebuild their lives, people such as social workers and other community workers will play an essential support role.


5 community development careers

These fires reminded us of how valuable strong community development efforts really are. The need for social care in South Africa is high at the best of times and becomes critical in times of crisis.

If making a difference in your community is close to your heart, then here are 5 careers you can aim for:


Community Development Worker

Employed by corporate companies and NGOs, community development workers are at the forefront of serving communities. They are tasked with implementing community development schemes on the ground. Their work could include supporting schools, old age homes, orphanages or any other worthy causes. You can choose to work in a field you are truly passionate about, whether it be related to healthcare, the environment or social issues.


Social Worker

Social workers are responsible for improving the lives of families, individuals or other groups. They work with community members on a very personal level to find solutions to problems caused by unemployment, poverty, substance abuse or domestic violence, amongst other issues.


Community liaison officer

Community liaison officers are employed by companies, NGOs or state institutions to act as the communication bridge with communities. They will engage with communities to find out what type of support they need, and interact with them on a constant basis to ensure that interventions are successful.



Counsellors provide emotional support and advice to people facing difficult situations. They move beyond offering guidance to clients, by offering focused, practical ways to cope with their circumstances.


Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioner

ECD workers play an essential role in educating children during the most important phase of their development. People such as teachers, assistant teachers and managers of ECD facilities all contribute greatly towards the education of communities.


Are you intent on making a difference in your community? Explore the Oxbridge Academy Skills Certificate: Community Development.


Also Read: