Hatch provides community liaison and heritage support for projects

3 August 2017
The Hatch Environmental Services Group (ESG) not only provides support for the ‘green’ aspects of engineering, construction, and mining projects, but also liaises with local communities for their buy-in, and facilitates any Chance Find Procedures if need be for fossil or archaeological finds in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act.
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PreviewElize Becker, who has a background in anthropology and archaeology, is Social and Heritage Specialist at Hatch’s Environmental S485.02 KBDownload
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With a background in both anthropology and archaeology, Elize Becker is Hatch ESG’s Social and Heritage Specialist. Based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, she provides a support function throughout South Africa and Africa. “I have a love of history and tangible artifacts like old buildings, but I also enjoy working with people. These are often linked, especially if you take the cultural aspects of projects into account,” she explains.

While Becker falls under Hatch ESG, she herself provides a specialist service. “I am consulted anytime there is a project where assistance is required in terms of liaising with the local community, or if there are any possible heritage aspects on site. I either compile a report detailing my recommendations, or I assess the area by conducting a baseline survey.”

Becker adds that this is a key differentiator for Hatch, which often deals with progressive clients in the engineering, construction, and mining space. “Not only are we as consulting engineers quite open-minded, but our clients are also often receptive to new ideas and mindsets. This gives us the space to develop new aspects of our business, which is wonderful.”

Apart from major clients in the commodities sector, Becker also deals with a range of private-sector clients, where her main scope of work is interfacing with local communities. In addition, she has been involved with a prefeasibility study in Cameroon, and has provided specialised assistance in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, as well as being part of a global project team in Bahrain in the Middle East, where her expertise was required on archaeological aspects related to historic pearl fishing.

“Making people and clients aware of the importance of heritage, culture, and community involvement is a critical aspect of my overall role, particularly in Africa as a whole,” Becker highlights. Africa has a rich cultural tradition, where intangible aspects related to heritage and belief must be taken into consideration.

In terms of dealing with potential flashpoints in securing local-community buy-in, Becker highlights that Hatch ESG’s approach is to become involved upfront, and to provide as much as information as possible to defuse any potential areas of conflict. “Often I am a facilitator between the community and the local authority. This involves extensive stakeholder engagement and public participation.”

Becker adds it is ideal for her to become involved prior to project development commencing. “This allows me to identify opportunities for the local community, and to integrate it with the project as soon as possible. If you leave it too late into the project timeline, communication becomes much more protracted and difficult.”

Hatch ESG is itself a small and focused department, and therefore calls on related group skills and expertise when required, including project management. In addition, Becker points out that workshare is possible with her global colleagues. In addition, Becker also assists with training interns and skills transfer to foster a broader multi-disciplinary approach at the consulting engineering company.


Notes to the editor
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