Fracking – separating facts from fiction

By Bonnie Schumann, the EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme Senior Field Officer

One assumes, as I did, that given the plethora of press articles on fracking that everyone knows what it is about. It is thus disconcerting to find out that there are in fact still large sectors of the community in isolated rural settings and small towns that are still in the dark about what it actually entails.

Two people have made it their mission in life to rectify this situation and empower people with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions on fracking. Dr Stefan Cramer from the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and his wife Erica are dedicating two years to travelling across the length and breadth of the Karoo to share knowledge about fracking issues with community members. Many of these rural communities do not necessarily have access to social media and other sources of information that we take for granted. Dr Cramer’s knowledge on the processes and technicalities of fracking comes from his life’s work as a hydrogeologist working in many countries, not only in Africa, but across the world.

The Loxton community welcomed Dr Cramer in early 2015. During this introductory session Dr Cramer met representatives from the different sectors in Loxton, including the emerging farmers, clinic staff, churches and the police. Dr Cramer returned to Loxton again in October for a one-day training session in the field with emerging farmers to create a better understanding of the implications of fracking in the Karoo and other parts of South Africa. However, this is not just another doom and gloom talk, as Dr Cramer also sheds light on what the alternatives to fracking are, including renewable energy, in the form of the sustainable development of solar and wind energy. The opportunities for job creation within the renewable energy are excellent. A field trip was also conducted with the Grade 7 learners from the JJ Booysen Primary school in Loxton. This was a novel experience for these learners – getting to know a bit about the Karoo geology, making music on the different rocks and learning about fracking.

For more information contact Dr Cramer at 072 290 8306 or stefancramer@gmail.com

For more information on the Programmes’ activities contact Bonnie Schumann (Senior Field Officer) Email: bonnies@ewt.org.za Cell: 072 1224232; or visit the EWT website: http://www.ewt.org.za

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