By Andisile Klaas
The United Nations first established 22 March as World Water Day in 1993. The day has been celebrated ever since as a day highlighting the importance of water, and the fact that billions of people globally still do not have access to clean water.
To celebrate World Water Day 2023 last week, students and interns from the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) cleaned up the Makhanda part of the Kowie River and Fairview Water Spring, not only for the river creatures but also for the human population that needs this valuable resource.
“Water is essential to every living being yet it is rapidly becoming a scarce resource, which is scary to think about”. This was the sentiment behind the river clean-up organized.
The cleanup began on the Makhanda part of the Kowie River, where plastic, papers, fabric and tires were removed from the water. Kowie River holds significance to SAIAB’s mission as it is home to Sandelia bainsii, a fish also known as Eastern Cape Rocky Kurper.
This fish, which is on the verge of extinction, is only found in the Kowie River, Eastern Cape. The genus (a group marked by common characteristics) was named after the ruler of the Right Hand House of the Xhosa Kingdom, King Mgolombane Sandile Ngqika and the species was named after the Scottish-born South African geologist and road engineer, Andrew Bain.
The group also drove to the Fairview Spring, where they picked up litter. This was also important because the spring provides residents of Makhanda with water that is safe to drink, and the area must be kept as clean as possible to maintain the purity of the water.
The mismanagement of both water and these critical areas would threaten the livelihoods of those who need it the most, as it is not only used for drinking and sanitation but agriculture, maintaining the health of the ecosystem and industrial growth.
The team hopes to create awareness about the importance of clean water, which will lead individuals to focus more on how we can all play a role in keeping our precious water sources clean.
(Andisile Klaas is a science communicator at SAIAB).