The Department of Environmental Affairs’ South African Environment Outlook Report indicates that the environment is continuing to deteriorate. This phenomenon has a negative impact on the Sustainable Development goals set for the National Development Plan.
One of the major challenges, among others, is high levels of pollution from littering and the illegal dumping of waste. This affects the health of citizens and contravenes the Constitution. In response to these challenges, the Department of Environmental Affairs has made a strategic decision to expand the existing environmental education and awareness initiatives. The DEA aims to reach out at ward level and enhance youth participation and so has established the youth community outreach programme (YCOP).
This is a community based environmental education and awareness programme. On the basis that youth are regarded as agents of change, it aims to nurture a cohort of young people to be Environment Ambassadors who will educate their communities about looking after the environment.
The expected outcome of this programme is active participation of communities in environmental management; awareness about conservation and sustainable use of the environment; improved waste management; a sense of pride in where they live; active participation by youth in environmental management; socio-economic opportunities for youth (work opportunities, SMME development and skills development).
The amount of waste our town generates on a daily basis is too much for a town of its size, according to research. A study by an environmental scientist who assessed our waste streams discovered that Makhanda generates more waste than any small town of its size in the country. Our town produces a waste tonnage equivalent to that of a city like Ekhuruleni, according to this study.
In an attempt to deal with this challenge, the municipality has partnered with an NGO called Siphumelele Youth Organisation. This organisation is run by a young woman called Nosiphiwo Mani. Through a grant from the Independent Development Trust, she was able to appoint around 85 people from Makhanda.
Siyaphumelela employees work on weekends, both Saturdays and Sundays. This programme is expected to run until the end of March 2020.
The municipality has also partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs through the national Thuma Mina Good Green Deeds programme in the Presidency. Its objectives are to tackle waste, reduce littering and to keep the environment clean. Through this programme, a total of 35 young people have been appointed. Out of these, 15 are environmental educators. Their role is to educate people about cleanliness, recycling and all waste management components and to conduct anti-littering campaigns .
The remaining 20 are responsible for litter collection. This programme started on 15 January 2020 and is going to run for a period of two years. In other words, there are two programmes running concurrently. The municipality utilises their services to clean the town both in the early morning and in the evening after hours. During the day, it is the task of municipal staff to keep the town clean. The main objectives of both programmes are to assist the municipality with waste management and the municipality will integrate them with the municipal cleaning schedule.
The municipality is utilising both teams to clean the CBD, including Beaufort, Bathurst, Hill and High streets, as well as Church Square and the Queen Street taxi rank surrounds. The illegal dumping sites within the townships are also being targeted by the teams.
Only in partnership with the community can the municipality achieve its goal of a clean environment.
Honourable Executive Mayor Councillor Mzukisi Mpahlwa