More than 100 learners and their teachers from four schools in Kayamandi will participate in a clean-up initiative of the Krom River in Stellenbosch ahead of National Water Week, as well as adopting and beautifying a spot next to the river for children to play.
This is one of the first public initiatives of the Kayamandi River Partnership – a collaboration between the Stellenbosch University Water Institute and external stakeholders such as the Stellenbosch River Collaborative, the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, the Stellenbosch Municipality's Department of Community Development and Security, and Kayamandi Schools. Other partners include SU's departments of Microbiology and Curriculum Studies.
Dr Leanne Seeliger, project leader based at SUWI, says previous attempts to address the pollution problems in the Krom and Plankenbrug rivers have been hampered by issues of sustainability and co-ordination among role players: “With this partnership, the aim is to develop a fund resourced by key stakeholders in water management in the area, to ensure continued water monitoring and water education."
The Plankenbrug river in Enkanini remains one of the most polluted rivers in Stellenbosch: “Initially we will focus on the Krom river as the initial site for awareness surveys and river clean ups, as the Plankenbrug river currently too polluted for learners to use," Seeliger explains.
With this initiative, the Kayamandi River Partnership hopes to build trust, restore community and rebuild civic responsibility through a shared understanding of ethics between the community and the municipality: “One of the greatest challenges facing most townships is water management. Many residents were previously excluded from crucial decision-making processes. If both the municipality and the community interrogate the principles at hand in water management in this area, then best practice, rather than minimal compliance could be achieved," she concludes.
Learners will also be monitoring the quality of the water, thereby contributing to their natural science's curriculum. Prof Chris Reddy from the Department of Curriculum Studies in the Faculty of Education will be showing the learners how to test the PH, nitrates and turbidity of the water using a toolkit from the School Water Action Programme (SWAP). Prof Wesaal Khan from SU's Department of Microbiology will discuss the dangers of pollution.
The high point of the week is on Friday 15 March 2019, when learners will “adopt" and beautify a spot next to the Krom River.
The initiative has received generous sponsorship of refreshments for participating learners from local businesses, including Ten of Cups, Timberlea Farming Trust and Chill Beverages.
The initiative takes place ahead of World Water Day on 20 March, and South Africa's National Water Week from 18 to 24 March 2019.
Dr Leanne Seeliger
Cell: 072 203 2113
On the photos above, Learners from Kayamandi Primary School are taking samples to test the water quality of the Krom River in Stellenbosch, under guidance of the Stellenbosch Water Institute and Prof Chris Reddy from SU's Faculty of Education. Photos: Leanne Seeliger