The Department of Environmental Affairs showcases the working for the coast projects

13 December 2017

 

The Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) Working for the Coast (WftC) is one of the programmes through which the department is contributing to the broader Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). WftCis mandated to keep the entire South African coastline (over 2 113 km) and its pristine environments clean throughout the year.

In June 2016, the DEA launched a two year cycle (2016/2018 ) of Working for the Coast projects worth R300 million in Durban, for upgrading and maintaining facilities and infrastructure along the coast (from Alexander Bay to Kosi Bay), thereby facilitating access to the coastline without compromising the environment.

The WftC is implemented through the DEA’s Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP), with a focus on the cleaning and rehabilitation of the entire South African coastline, as well as the development and maintenance of coastal infrastructure.

In the Eastern Cape province, there are 09 WftC projects that are implemented in 15 municipalities along the coastline of 646 kms, stretching from Mthamvuna River on the North East and down to Tsitsikamma on the South East. At least 771 local people (52 per cent women; 57 per cent youth; and 2 per cent of people living with disabilities) have been employed in these projects. Their scope of work includes but is not limited to beach clean-ups and coastal rehabilitation.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa, has expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the WftC programme, saying that “there has been significant progress, with approximately 2 746 work and training opportunities for communities residing near the coastal areas having been generated.”

“The Working for the Coasts projects contribute towards addressing the challenge of unemployment, through provision of decent employment opportunities which form part of the inclusive economic growth outcome, wherein government works with communities to identify local opportunities that will benefit the communities,” she added.

“The main goal is to alleviate poverty and uplift households especially those headed by women and the youth, through job creation, skills development, and use of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) whilst at the time contributing to the conservation of our natural environment.  It is through projects such as these that we strive to bring about the balance between the social, economic and environment for sustainable living,” said Minister Molewa.

Furthermore, the South African oceans and coastal areas support a growing tourism industry as many citizens and international visitors flock to our shores to engage in recreational activities such as swimming, diving and whale-watching.

Since inception, the programme has had numerous achievements, some of which include but are 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 sinceincreased from three in 2001 to 69 in the 2014/2015 season.

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

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Albi Modise
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