6 June 2011
The government has set aside R2-million to fund the Adopt-a-River project, which has so far created 595 job opportunities, for a further 12 months, says Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi.
She was launching the Buffalo Adopt-a-River project in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape over the weekend.
Through the project, Mabudafhasi said local women had acquired skills in waste management, occupational health and safety, identification of alien weeds and herbicide application, water safety, snake handling, first aid, environmental education and life skills.
“The other direct benefit is that the health of rivers has improved drastically,” she said. “The Buffalo River project employed 100 women from the rural poor communities … who are involved in the cleaning of solid waste and alien vegetation species along the banks of the Buffalo River.
“It has increased women’s participation in water resource issues and capacitated them to advocate for behavioural changes and increased caring of rivers and environment in their respective communities.”
Providing food, reducing crime
Mabudafhasi added that the project had also boosted the self-esteem of local women as they were able to provide food for their families.
“There is also positive feedback received from other stakeholders such as [the South African Police Service], that since the women started working at the river sites, the incidents of crime at these places have gone down because criminals are no longer able to utilise these sites for their criminal activities and criminal hideouts,” she said.
The Adopt-a-River project is also aimed at bringing communities on board, and educating them on water resource management and the environment, in order for them to take full responsibility and to be able to make informed decisions.
The initiative is currently running in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Free State, which were the pilot provinces.
Facing water challenges
Mabudafhasi said that South Africa, like many other countries in Africa, faced a future threat if water resources were not well managed, protected, used, conserved and developed in a sustainable manner.
She said due to developmental needs, water demand was increasing rapidly while the amount of available water remained the same.
“Currently, we are faced with challenges such as water wastage through leaks and polluted rivers,” she said. “We all know that water is a catalyst for any development.
“In order to ensure that there is enough water in our country, we have embarked on various programmes such as Adopt-a-River, War on Leaks, [the] 2020 Vision Programme and others,” Mabudafhasi said.