The EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme (ACCP)’s continues to make great strides in integrating biodiversity conservation with community development in the Mpumalanga Lakes region. As part of an ongoing project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), the ACCP organised a clean-up event on Tuesday, the 19th of November to empower the Chrissiesmeer community to effect a change in waste management systems in their town. Water from the residential areas and retail centres in Chrissiesmeer drains into a system of streams, shallow wetlands and, ultimately, the magnificent Lake Chrissie. Poor waste management in the town, therefore, has implications on water quality, human health and biodiversity.
The clean-up event was organised in partnership with the Msukaligwa Municipality, Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (DEDET) and the Community Works Programme (CWP). The local councillor, Mr B. Ngwenya, was instrumental in mobilising the community and persuaded community members working under the Community Works Programme to take a leading role during the clean-up operation. In his speech before the start of the clean-up activities, the ACCP’s Community Field Officer, Steven Segang, highlighted the linkages between human health and wetland health. He stressed that when water resources are polluted, it is not just humans that suffer as animals are also negatively affected. He explained the human health and ecological benefits of ensuring that the streams and drains that feed the magnificent Lake Chrissies and associated wetlands are not polluted. A team of 55 community members took part in the half-day event. Apart from removing litter from streets and public areas, participants also assumed the role of health ambassadors and explained ways to reduce littering to other residents. They identified “waste hotspots”, zones in the residential areas where dumping of household waste is common.
In his closing address, Mr Ngwenya noted that clean-up events should become a priority under the Community Work Programme so as to constantly remind the community about the need to keep Chrissiesmeer clean. This event was just the beginning as the ACCP plans to create more social platforms so that local stakeholders can appreciate the importance of maintaining a clean environment for the benefit of people and endangered wildlife in the Mpumalanga Lakes region.