Government heightens public awareness on desertification, land degradation and drought
29 April 2016
The Ministers of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana and Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi have today, Friday 29 April 2016, engaged with the members of the Sterkspruit community in efforts to heighten public awareness about Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought at the Bensonvale College, Eastern Cape.
Desertification is land degradation in drylands that affects biological productivity as well as the livelihoods of millions of people. It is caused by a combination of human and natural factors that contribute to an unsustainable use of natural resources which include soil, water, air, vegetation, solar and wind energy.
The purpose of the Ministers’ visit was to inspect the extent of desertification, land degradation and drought in the area, and determine what needs to be done to enhance the various strategies implemented to address the challenge. As such, the Ministers visited a pilot land rehabilitation project funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) to the tune of R 21 million between 2011 and 2016 over two phases. The project is implemented through the labour intensive Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), and employed 158 local people (93 were women, 72 youth, and 4 were people living with disability).
The objective of this project is to address the impacts of desertification, land degradation, drought, rehabilitation and restoration. The project also aims to help with job creation, small business development and skills development in the area. The areas that the project is targeting include Jozana’s Hoek, Magwiji, Sundudza and Jozana’s neck. The project entails erosion control, rehabilitation of dongas, construction of gabion structures, and re-vegetation of the area through the planting of shrubs and trees that are indigenous to the area.
In addition, the land rehabilitation project is contributing to the development of small business enterprises. Six small businesses have been used in the first phase to provide services in transportation, the provision of training, provision of protective clothing,, materials and equipment.
The second phase of the project began in January 2015 and is expected to conclude in August 2016. This phase has employed 110 local people (57 women, 73 youth, and 5 people living with disability). In addition to this, the project has provided training opportunities to local people employed in the project.
Addressing the Sterkspruit community, Environmental Affairs Minister Mrs Edna Molewa, explained that “Non-accredited training “ has been implemented covering a variety of courses including First Aid, Health and Safety, Environmental Awareness, HIV/AIDS, Life Skills. Accredited training was also done on Construction of Gabion Structures. In addition the project is contributing to the development of small business enterprises. A total of 16 small businesses have been used in providing services in transportation, provision of protective clothing, provision of training, materials and equipment for both phases. Plans are underway to provide accredited training.”
To read Minister Molewa’ speech, click on the link below:
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