More than half a million learners from almost 600 schools have taken a message in the bottle into their homes and communities this year as part of Coca-Cola Beverages SA’s Schools Recycling Programme.
On September 27, these young environmental ambassadors will find out who came out tops at the annual Schools Recycling Awards ceremony in Johannesburg, where the top three waste-busting primary and high schools will be announced.
Participating schools commit to collecting at least 1000kg of waste a month – at least 30% of which must be polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – and those with a monthly haul of more than 2 tonnes stand a chance of winning cash prizes to be used for the upgrading of their facilities.
The programme is a part of CCBSA’s commitment to collecting post-consumer waste and raising awareness about the importance of waste management and recycling among learners in regions where it has a presence.
“Schools are the perfect partner in such a programme as learners take the message of environmental stewardship home with them, spreading it within their direct circle of influence and, in the longer term as they grow up and become adults, driving responsible behaviour in their families and communities,” says Tsholofelo Mqhayi, Head: Enterprise and Community Development at CCBSA.
The programme has gone from strength to strength in the six years since its inception, with a total of 597 schools participating in 2017, compared to 40 in 2011.
Last year schools collected a total of 710 tonnes of PET, cans and paper, saving 3 951.6m³ of landfill space.
Apart from standing a chance of winning a cash prize – and helping to remove PET from the waste stream – participating schools earn revenue from the recycling material collected, while learners begin to understand complex sustainability issues.
“Using knowledge, critical thinking skills and values, they are developing the capacity to participate in decision making about environmental and development issues,” says Mqhayi.
The programme has also created permanent jobs for 53 youth Recycling Representatives in CCBSA and elsewhere.
Once the competition has closed for the year, the top 10 schools undergo a rigorous adjudication process during September to determine the top three schools nationally.
Judges consider what each school has collected and also give schools an opportunity to present how they have included communities and parents in the process.
The Schools Recycling Awards are held to honour the schools that have excelled in the programme. The event is attended by learners and teachers from various regions, as well as stakeholders who have assisted in making the programme a success.
It’s time to start imagining the worst weather scenarios possible, if we are to be prepared for more severe natural disasters in this era of climate change, writes ADB’s Renard Teipelke.
Regular patterns seem to define most people’s lives. We usually prepare for the future based on what we experienced in the past. But this approach does not work when dealing with the impact of extreme weather events – which are increasingly less predictable and more severe due to climate change.
I would like to share with you the story of recent disasters in two places that at first sight could not be more different, but which share an interesting lesson for making cities more resilient against climate change.
Let me first take you to my uncle’s hometown of Braunsbach, a small town of 2,500 people in the province of Schwäbisch-Hall in southwest Germany. Most people only know this place because of the nearby Kochertalbrücke, one of the world’s tallest viaduct bridges.
Fitting the bucolic image of a stereotypical German small town, Braunsbach is indeed a peaceful, quiet place with a nice town center in the valley, surrounded by houses and green fields on the hillside. One main creek and two smaller creeks run through the town and add to the picture-perfect scenery.
On 29 May 2016, a locally concentrated rain shower hit Braunsbach. In contrast to usual storms, the clouds did not move away but rather remained hanging over a small area near the hills. The downpour released in a single day as much rain as the area usually receives over several months. The tiny creeks swelled into torrents of water, and as the floods came down from the hills they created mudslides and on their way to the valley swept away even seemingly stable structures.
Braunsbach was left an inferno of mud and destruction, and the damage bill amounted to more than $122 million, a big amount for such a small town.
The distortions caused by climate impacts will result in volatility that we are currently not ready for, because most people struggle to imagine crises beyond the scope of those they have experienced in the past.
Extreme weather shocks citizens
After I have visited post-disaster Braunsbach earlier this year, my work brought me nearly 7,000 km south to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. If you leave the main B2 road and take a few connector and slip roads that are not on the map, you reach Chamazi Ward in Temeke District, one of the city’s many unplanned settlements.
Chamazi, however, is not the typical dire slum neighborhood in East Africa. I found a community of loosely assembled houses that lack many basic services, but are built with lasting materials as future investments by hopeful residents.
People extracted sand from a low-lying area behind the neighborhood with unintended and rather unfortunate consequences for the residents. The rainy season turned the area into a small pond, where both sand extraction and fishing continued. This newly-formed swamp received storm water from elevated parts of the neighborhood, but did not have a clear direct outflow to the nearby river.
The rainy season earlier this year made the swamp swell up again. One night, a resident came home late from work and saw the water seeping through the area between the pond and the river. He and his neighbors were barely able to escape before over 20 houses and an entire 4,000 m2 area were flushed away.
In both Braunsbach and Chamazi, extreme weather events left people in horror about nature’s disregard for the built environment. No one died, but citizens lost their properties, and their livelihoods were put at risk.
Reconstruction efforts and flood resilience planning have started in Braunsbach. But people in Chamazi now live with a big crater cutting their neighborhood in half. Unless adequate drainage infrastructure is built, the next rainy season will again bring stormwater running through the earth tracks of the neighborhood, flooding houses on the way to the river.
Asia is extremely vulnerable
My point, however, is not about the differing reactions to climate-related disasters in an advanced country and a developing one. Instead, both cases are quite emblematic of the kind of climate challenges that many parts of the world face today.
Nevertheless, what happened in Germany and Tanzania is not the “typical” flooding that people envision when imaging future extreme climate events around the world, particularly in Asia and the Pacific.
Asia is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A recent ADB report warns that even if climate change mitigation actions are effectively implemented, some subregions, ecosystems, sectors, and livelihoods will still be at risk.
Predicting far in advance extreme climate events will be as difficult as to manage. The distortions caused by climate impacts will result in volatility that we are currently not ready for, because most people struggle to imagine crises beyond the scope of those they have experienced in the past.
The thought of heavy rain causing such devastation in Braunsbach and Chamazi never crossed the mind of residents. But since these incidents will continue to occur and likely become more extreme, we must be fully aware so we can prepare for disasters on a large scale.
Only by paying close attention to even the most extreme impacts will communities be able to effectively implement measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in Asia and beyond. We must imagine disasters we’ve never seen before to be ready when they strike.
Renard Teipelke is Consultant, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department at the Asian Development Bank. This post is republished from the ADB blog.
Habitat for Humanity calls on corporate assistance on the eve of its Nelson Mandela Day build event.
Habitat for Humanity South Africa, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, will be hosting its Nelson Mandela International Build Week from 17 to 21 July in Orange Farm, Gauteng. Together with more than 4000 volunteers, the organisation intends to build 67 homes, one for every year of Mandela’s public service.
“South Africa’s urban population is growing at a remarkable rate, while at the same time housing costs continue to increase,” says Habitat for Humanity South Africa national director Patrick Kulati. ”This prevents low-income families from entering the formal housing market.”
Habitat for Humanity South Africa builds not only homes, but communities too. Community members pinpoint the resources they need, while experts in the field focus on finding solutions. “We need the help of corporates to fund community projects from the get-go. This will allow us to strategically allocate the budget at the planning stages, providing communities with the developments they deserve,” says Kulati.
It’s for this reason that the organisation is calling on corporate teams to volunteer their time to help build the homes, and to use their financial resources to assist Habitat in building the community of Orange Farm beyond the build event. Habitat for Humanity South Africa has been involved with the Orange Farm Community since 2008. The current population is estimated to be 1 million – making it one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa. The initial four year engagement focused on building housing with volunteers, as a way to alleviate poverty. Since 2015 the strategy has evolved to include growing strong community-based leadership.
South Africa’s National Development Plan hopes to eliminate poverty by the year 2030 by promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society, among other factors. By helping build new homes, those involved become advocates in action and play a critical role in helping fellow South Africans take vital steps out of poverty. Corporates can use the Habitat for Humanity Build Week as a team-building exercise by getting their employees involved in the building programmes.
Habitat for Humanity South Africa will be celebrating its 21st birthday at the end of this year. With the assistance of dedicated and loyal volunteers over these last two decades, the organisation has been raising awareness of the right of all people to access to decent shelter and in this way positively impacting communities. “I’ve been a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity South Africa for 14 years and the feeling of making a difference in the lives of others never gets old,” says Liyanda Maseko, Habitat for Humanity SA volunteer.
Mandela Day is held annually on 18 July, Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
For more information about the Build Week or to find out how to get involved, visit www.habitat.org.za.
Hawassa becomes the 20th domestic destination for Ethiopian Airlines, which has announced that it will begin four weekly flights from April 16, 2016.
Ethiopian’s Q-400 aircraft will make the 40 minute flight every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The Airline has pledged to offer international standard services for domestic travellers at the lowest possible cost. This will not only boost the region’s growing investment and tourism industry but will enhance the socio-economic relations of the state with others. Domestic and international travellers will be able to easily make flight transfers to and from Hawassa.
The city is the capital of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples State and is one of the best tourist destinations in Ethiopia. Its attractions include one of the seven lakes of the Great Rift Valley as well as its diverse cultures and languages.
Hawassa’s 457 million Br Airport is yet to be inaugurated officially in the same week that Ethiopian Airlines will make its maiden flight to that destination.
Opening this route is part of the Airline’s Vision 2025 which includes the establishment of Ethiopian Express as a strategic business unit for the delivery of essential air connectivity. The new service is expected to attract the business community, public sector personnel, university students and lecturers as well as tourists.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is embarking on an operation to test water in Senekal on 12 to 15 April 2016. Water tankers that supply the community with water, sponsored by the department, will be tested for any hazardous substance or bacteria.
DWS has enlisted the assistance of the University of the Free State (UFS) to test and clean the tanks used to supply water to communities of Senekal. Taking into consideration the health of the community and prioritizing it, DWS will test water from the source where the water tankers are filled and the tankers themselves as well as the nozzles to ensure quality of water is safe for consumption.
Where necessary chemicals such as Sodium Hypochlorite are added to the water in the tank and circulated for a period of thirty minutes before the water can be distributed to consumers. These processes are followed routinely to avoid any outbreaks off illness from consumption of unclean water.
A s a result of the poverty that affects many families in our country, some men and women resort to recycling to keep their hunger at bay.
While recycling helps generate a small income that can buy bread, it also helps to keep our environment clean. The sad part of it is that the community looks down on people who walk around looking for empty cans, bottles and papers.
If you think that the recyclers are a bunch of losers, think again. Their initiative needs to be encouraged by all means.
Whenever we have recyclable items, we can put them aside for the recyclers to collect. By helping the unemployed to put food on the table you will be helping the whole nation to develop.
Some unemployed people have turned to illegal business while others are con artists who rob people on a daily basis. Others are beggars who are driven by self-pity.
I would like to salute all those who wake up in the morning and go to dumps or walk the streets to pick up recyclable stuff.
They are doing nothing illegal and at the end of the day their families have food on the table.
As the people of South Africa we need to do away with empty pride and help each other to alleviate poverty. The more we work together towards a common goal, the more our country will develop and reduce people’s reliance on government grants.
A ‘cluster research’ model that worked for seaweed growers in Zanzibar should be widely adopted, says Flower Msuya.
The results of scientific studies are of little use to farmers unless they stem from applied research that can enhance the work they do to make a living. Such research could, for example, lead to innovative methods that help seaweed farmers earn more by producing high-quality crops or adding value to their seaweed by processing it rather than selling it raw.
But research results often fail to reach the people who can benefit from them. To avoid this, the Zanzibar Seaweed Cluster Initiative (ZaSCI) has been practising cluster-based research, an approach that has improved the applicability of research over the past ten years with interesting results.
Direct line to research
Two features differentiate cluster-based research from other forms. One is that it tackles challenges brought to scientists by a particular community, such as farmers. The other is that the research findings are given back to this group as direct feedback, which they then use to improve their day-to-day activities. ZaSCI is a good, current example of how cluster research programmes can link farmers directly with research institutions.
“Because of the initiative, farmers are now communicating with each other through mobile phones to discuss challenges and day-to-day needs that they can then take to research institutions for answers.” Flower Msuya
Two types of seaweed are farmed on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar: cottonii and spinosum. Cottonii is in higher demand because it has more applications in industrial processes than spinosum (for example in food and cosmetics manufacturing), and so at 50 US cents per kilogram, its price is double that of the other seaweed. But cottonii has failed to thrive in recent years because of the impact of climate change: increased surface seawater temperatures and diseases have kept it from growing at all in many areas, and have cut its production in the few places where it still grows.
Farmers were troubled by the failure of this higher-value seaweed to grow, and brought the issue to ZaSCI meetings. Researchers listened to their concerns and focused on developing innovative methods to both produce the higher-valued seaweed and add value to the lower-priced seaweed.
They developed bamboo rafts, floating lines and recently a novel method of using tubular nets to do this. These methods can be used in water that is one to three metres deep as opposed to water of a few centimetres in depth, where seaweed is currently farmed. Conditions such as temperature and salinity are more stable in deeper waters, and so they favour better growth: more seaweed is produced per unit area, and die-offs are minimised.
Over the past ten years, ZaSCI research has enabled farmers to farm more of the higher-valued seaweed and produce a number of value-added products — such as foods including juice, jam and cake, and powder used to make products or against infections — that sell at a much higher price than raw seaweed. A good example is seaweed powder, which sells at US$6 per kilogram compared with 25 US cents per kilogram of unprocessed spinosum.
And the benefits go beyond the direct economic impact of research: because of the initiative, farmers are now communicating with each other through mobile phones to discuss challenges and day-to-day needs that they can then take to research institutions for answers.
ZaSCI operates using a ‘triple helix’ model that promotes interactive relationships between universities, industry and government. The presence of the government is important but not sufficient: policy issues are addressed by soliciting opinion from a variety of people, and assessed alongside views from government representatives.
In practice, this means ZaSCI links farmers (60 per cent of whom are women) with research institutions and government departments responsible for seaweed farming. It also links farmers or processors with each other as well as with exporters.
The conversation needed to be changed, according to Nomvula Mokonyane. The water and sanitation minister spoke at a conference in Pretoria on Monday on getting women, who were breadwinners of households, to be providers in national sectors.”How do we inform, incentivise and invest in women-owned businesses and women leaders in water and sanitation,” she asked delegates at the National Women in Water Consultative Conference, where she encouraged them to change the conversation.”How do we change the debate from one of victimisation to one of transformational leadership… We are here to create wealth and prosperity.”Mokonyane spoke of women who walked for more than an hour to fetch water for their households. “An old lady said she was raped along the way. But that will not stop her from fetching water,” she said.More than 200 million hours were spent each day around the world on fetching water. Businesspeople, Mokonyane urged, should not forget people like the women fetching water for their families.”Water is perceived to be a women’s business but the business of water lacks women.” She was planning to shape the Department of Water and Sanitation. “Women should not only fetch water for their households, but they must also be suppliers of pipes and manage reservoirs.”Mokonyane wanted women to be part of the planning, designing and implementation processes of things such as building dams or toilets.
For this reason, her department had launched the three-year national Women in Water Programme. “The programme comprises a mentorship programme, a women in water business incubator and a women in water forum. The scope of the programme covers all women-owned businesses that are competent and excellent in the provision of services to the department.”It would also focus on women in science and engineering, those in innovation, those in construction, and women in local community initiatives. Other businesses owned by women may be considered based on merit.Mokonyane said the first incubators would be made known in January 2016.
Female speakers addressed the conference commission sessions, during which the audience could engage with the speakers and give their input on topics like science and engineering, innovation, construction and local community initiatives.In the construction commission, Dr Thandi Ndlovu, chief executive officer of Motheo Construction Group, said the money the government pumped into infrastructure had been reduced. Despite this, she felt the concern of the country was what would happen to women.The government policy was that at least 30% of its business should go to women-headed companies. Ndlovu said it was important to have a niche for yourself. “Look for the low-hanging fruit. Dams will be built by the grade 9 contractors. Don’t expect to build a dam if it’s not your niche.”She also said the value of partnership was very important in making your business succeed.Khungeka Njobe, the chairperson of South Africa’s Technology Innovation Centre and Aveng Water, said before she had started a business, she asked herself how she could do things differently from what was on the market.She agreed that forming partnerships in business was vital. “Before partnerships, it starts with relationships. Partnerships must be complementary, not just about who you know. We got to know our strengths and skills [before entering a partnership].”She also said that investing should not be postponed. “We’ll keep on saying we do not have the skills. To understand the situation better, investment in things like research should be done.”
Cape Town – Cape Town Stadium should be converted into a hi-tech sewerage plant so the city can stop discharging about 50 million litres of untreated effluent in Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Green Point daily.
“A lack of suitable space on which to build a new sewerage treatment plant seems to be one of the biggest headaches for the municipality… but many people now want to know about the possibility of converting (Cape Town) stadium into a hi-tech sewerage plant,” said Afriforum’s provincial co-ordinator Stefan Pieterse.
The proposal has been echoed by the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance in a letter to several national government departments. The alliance refuted the city’s argument that it did not have land to build alternative sewage disposal facilities.
“In Green Point, there is a huge piece of land where the stadium presently stands, and in Camps Bay the city owns plenty of land around the Glen Club,” said Len Swimmer, deputy chairman of the alliance, that represents 160 civic groups and ratepayers’ associations.
The city last week applied for a permit to discharge sew age from its three coastal outflow pipes, as per legislation that came into effect in 2009. The applications are available for public comment until July 10.
Photographs of plumes of sewage and effluent floating along the coast, close to Blue Flag beaches, has sparked concern that the city’s outflow systems are unable to cope with the increased demands for waste disposal.
But Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said the outfalls were properly designed and functioning and did not pose a risk to the environment or beachgoers. The city had other pressing needs, such as securing water resources, and building a second treatment facility at these sites was not a priority.
Swimmer said Hout Bay in particular was a “double jeopardy environmental crime”.
In a letter to the departments of health, forestry and fisheries, tourism and trade and industry, Swimmer said: “The fact is that Hout Bay is a bay within a bay – it is part of the larger bay stretching as far as Kommetjie.” The new coastal regulations prohibit sewage outfalls from being pumped into a bay, he said. Hout Bay needed a proper sewerage plant.
“Councillor Sonnenberg defends the outfall method as the most cost effective way to deal with the problem of sewage disposal, but we really need to interrogate whether it is so – and this we ask you to consider for the benefit of all the people in Cape Town.”
Pieterse said: “Cape Town cannot flush away its sewage problem in the ocean, or simply apply for a permit to legalise it. This is a challenge the municipality must look square in the eyes some time or another and bring forward some innovative solutions.”
Afriforum has launched an online petition in a bid to get 20 000 objections that can be submitted to the city before the public comment period closes.
“It is not only the sewage that is causing a major upset, but thousands of litres of hazardous chemicals that are pumped into the ocean every month,” said Pieterse.
Dr Jo Barnes, lecturer in epidemiology and community health at the University of Stellenbosch, said the effluent contained “many” disease-causing organisms, chemicals, disinfectants and pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and personal care products. There were also “emerging pollutants” such as hormones, anti-inflammatory drugs, caffeine, fats, oils and greases.
Barnes said the city did not have a back-up plan if the system failed or the bay became too polluted.
PROMOTING entrepreneurship among rural women, Provincial Treasury, in partnership with the Pietermaritzburg Business Chamber (PCB), Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Msunduzi municipality last Friday opened a village market for 300 rural businesses at the Royal Showgrounds.
The market, co-ordinated by KwaZulu-Natal Financial Literacy (KZNFLA), has a spaza shop, 25 stalls selling fresh produce, handmade garments, craft and processed products. Prior to the market opening women exhibitors were given training on running businesses.
KZNFLA Trust chairperson Artwell Hlengwa said the exhibition, which will continue until 7 June, is aimed at reducing poverty by expanding social and economic opportunities for rural communities and empowering them to make informed financial decisions.
“Through this partnership we are touching the lives of our rural communities, as these women will share their knowledge and experience with their partners and families.
“In addition, they are also given a platform from which they can sell their produce,” he said. Vegetable farmers Hlaleleni Buthelezi and Nokukhanya Ntombela, who own Ixhiba Co-operative at Fundokuhle Secondary in Imbali, told Echo they appreciate the goverment’s initiative, as it gives them a platform to showcase their produce.
The co-op was founded in 2006 and produces tomatoes, spinach, chillies, beetroot, brinjil, green, red and yellow peppers, cucumber and lettuce.
Their current distribution areas include Mkondeni market, PCK Distributors and they also produce for the community.
Buthelezi said the co-op, with six members, was started seven years ago after realising that every living organism relies on agriculture.
“We all need the soil and we are heeding the government’s call of ‘one home and one garden’,” she said.
Buthelezi and Ntombela said while there are not enough job opportunities young people need to start such initiatives to survive.
Ntombela said: “Not everyone can be employed by the government and with agriculture one can never go wrong.
“It is good to be your own employer and we need young people who will carry on legacy, even when we die.”
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