retoria – In commemoration of this year’s Mandela Month, the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) today joined forces with an array of stakeholders to tidy up the banks of the Hennops River in Gauteng Province.
This clean-up programme was under the auspices of the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), aptly themed “Clear Rivers Campaign.”
Participating organisations included Exxaro (leading partner), the Department of Water and Sanitation, Plastics SA, Nestle, The Young Water Professionals, Hennops Blue Horizon, Kleenhealth, Department of Environmental Affairs, City of Tshwane, Royal Elephant Hotel, USAID, Climate Resilience Program, NEPAD Business Foundation, Chemonics and other community led organisations.
This river clean-up campaign sought to demonstrate that positive behaviour towards our water ways and catchments is integral to the improvement of the state of the physical environment and society’s living conditions. It also highlighted the importance of access to clean and quality water in the realisation of healthy and thriving communities.
The South African water sector, said the SWPN’s private sector co-chairperson Martin Ginster, is currently facing a lot of challenges that can only be resolved through the efforts of the collective.
“As a convener and enabler of collective action partnerships focussing on closing the water gap in South Africa, the Strategic Water Partners’ Network is pleased to have been a leading partner of this event, added Ginster.
The challenge lies in preventing plastics from entering our environment – our rivers and oceans after it has been used
Katherine Fillmore from Hennops Blue Horizon noted that South Africa has an extensive network of rivers and most of them are currently in a bad state of pollution and that the Hennops is not an exception. “When I pick up waste out of a river, I play Johnny Clegg’s song Asimbonanga and work to the rhythm of the music and the energy that the song conveys. When Mandela stood in front of a crowd he stood for the betterment of humanity,” said Filmore.
Annually, said Douw Steyn, Director of Sustainability at Plastics SA, millions of people around the world are encouraged to refuse the use of single-use plastics as part of ‘Plastics Free July’.
Steyn added: “Our message in the plastics industry has since been that plastics are too valuable to waste. The challenge lies in preventing plastics from entering our environment – our rivers and oceans after it has been used. We need to make sure that we have efficient waste management and recycling in South Africa.”
Joey Louw from Exxaro Resources expressed hope that the project will encourage people living or doing business around the Hennops River to join in and also do their part to create a more sustainable environment for all.”
In conclusion it is hoped that this event will be the launch of an ongoing project with organisations already doing good work in this space and include more stakeholders in the vicinity of the river who have an interest in sustainable clean up operations.