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DEA launches Working for the Coast projects and celebrates World Oceans Day with a beach clean-up

17 June 2016

 

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) launched the new cycle of the Working for the Coast (Wftc) project earlier today, 17 June 2016, during the World Oceans Day celebrations in Durban.

The Wftc programme is one of DEA’s Expanded Public Works Projects (EPWP) which is implemented in order to clean and rehabilitate the coastline, while at the same time creating jobs and skills development in coastal communities.

The launch introduced a new Working for the Coast project cycle which will run for the duration of two years, covering the entire South African coastline from Alexander Bay to Kosi Bay. These projects will generate approximately 2 407 work opportunities as well as 5 526 Fulltime Equivalent over two years. The project has managed to employ thousands of unemployed youth whilst giving skills to the beneficiaries through both non-accredited and accredited training.

The cleaning and rehabilitation of the coastline, the development and maintenance of coastal infrastructure have been an integral part of the Working for the Coast focus area under which a lot of temporary jobs and skills development have been achieved.

Since inception, the programme has had numerous achievements, some of which include but not limited to beaches being awarded the internationally renowned Blue Flag status, availability of beach facilities, creation of access to pristine beaches and a well conserved coastline. The number of blue flag beaches has since increased form 3 in 2001 to 69 in 2014/2015 season.

These achievements do not only contribute to the country being a coastal tourism destination of choice worldwide, but have brought about the much needed revenue to coastal towns and communities whilst creating job opportunities in the tourism sector.

In conjunction with the launch, the Department also hosted an eventful beach clean-up in celebration of World Oceans Day, this was led by various dignitaries, DEA officials, community members, organizations, schools from surrounding areas, and the beneficiaries of the Department’s Working for Water and Working for the Coast Programmes. The total mass of the waist collected today was 729,5 Kilograms.

The most common litter was plastic bottle caps, metal bottle caps, polystyrene pieces and cigarette butts. 

Statistics reported by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) stated that they were over 13 000 pieces of litter floating on every square kilometer of ocean in 2005. South Africa is not immune to the problem as the presence of litter, particularly plastic items, are a common sight along our recreational beaches and estuaries – especially in urban areas. During the 2015 International Coastal Clean-up Day celebrated in September 2015, a total of 16 141 volunteers collected over 109 000 litter items in just over 77 kilometers of coastline.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has stated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. Therefore celebrations such as World Oceans Day should be utilised to raise more awareness about the problem of plastic litter and to encourage the public to make a practical contribution by participating in clean-up campaigns.

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Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483