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SU to coordinate regional Centre of Vocational Excellence in Water to coordinate regional Centre of Vocational Excellence in Water Faculty of Science (media and communication)<p>​<span style="text-align:justify;">​​The </span><a href="/english/entities/SUWI/Pages/default.aspx" style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University Water Institute</a><span style="text-align:justify;"> will coordinate the establishment of the first regional Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) in Water – making it the first initiative of the </span><a href="" style="text-align:justify;">Platform of Vocational Excellence in Water</a><span style="text-align:justify;"> outside the European Union.</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The <a href="">Platform of Vocational Excellence in Water</a> is a project, funded by the European Union, to upskill professional workers in the water sector. Four CoVEs in Water have already been established in The Netherlands, Malta, the Czech Republic and Latvia. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the launch of the regional CoVE in Water on 23 May 2023, Prof. Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU, said the establishment of the platform is in line with the Department of Higher Education and Training's objective to increase partnerships between universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, the private sector and government.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The outcome is to link TVET institutions with the latest research outcomes, thereby increasing the relevancy of training with the labour market and increasing graduates' chances for employment. Stellenbosch University, through the SU Water Institute, has an established track record with TVET institutions," she added. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The launch, which took place at the Stellenbosch University Museum, was attended by representatives from the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Energy Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA), the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and Rand Water, and from Europe representatives from CIV Water, Learning Hub Friesland, Province of Fryslân, Maastricht School of Management, and Wavemakers United.  South African TVET colleges present at the event included Capricorn TVET College, Vhembe TVET College, Lovedale TVET College, Northlink TVET College, False Bay TVET College, and West Coast College.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Over the next three years SUWI's role will be to coordinate the project on a regional level while the European partners contribute their knowledge and experience of establishing a CoVE in Water. The objective of the regional CoVE in Water will be to serve as an intermediary between South Africa's TVET colleges and industry.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The launch was followed by several meetings between the representatives and other important stakeholders such as the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Agriculture Sector Education Training Authority (Agriseta), the Technology and Innovation Agency, the Western Cape Government, Drakenstein Municipality, UNESCO, the Namibian University of Science and Technology and the Southern African Development Cooperation.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The representatives also participated in site visits to the WaterHub in Franschhoek – a joint initiative between the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch Municipality, and the Western Cape government – and the Boy Louw Borehole Treatment Plant in Paarl, managed by the Drakenstein Municipality.     </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For more information related to the platform, contact Manuel Jackson at​​​</p>
Milestones in climate smart agriculture project celebrated in climate smart agriculture project celebratedStellenbosch University Water Institute<p></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Stellenbosch University Water Institute and Faculty of Agrisciences, in partnership with Maastricht School of Management (MSM), showcased the outcomes and achievements of a project aimed at strengthening skills in climate smart agriculture in South Africa during a workshop on Friday, 17 March 2023.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The project, titled “Strengthening skills of TVET staff and students for optimising water usage and climate smart agriculture in South Africa", forms part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The OKP is a €195-million Dutch global development programme that is promoted in 53 developing countries and managed by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation for internationalization in education. Over the past three years, part of it during the COVID-19 pandemic, the project reached several key milestones. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Delegations</strong> from several colleges attended the event, including <a href="">Vhembe TVET College</a> (Limpopo Province), <a href="">Motheo TVET College</a> (Free State), <a href="">Nkangala TVET College</a> (Mpumalanga), as well as <a href="">Boland College</a> and <a href="">Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute (Western Cape).</a> Other attendees included representatives from MSM, Nuffic Neso South Africa, <a href="">AgriColleges International</a> (ACI), the <a href="">Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO),</a> the <a href="">Energy & Water Sector Education Training Authority</a> (EWSETA), the Sustainability Institute, <a href="">Capricorn</a> TVET College, and West Coast College.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Some of the project milestones</strong> that were showcased during the seminar included the revision and implementation of student learning material related to water topic elements, the establishment of three high-technology horticulture greenhouses at Vhembe, Motheo, and Boland colleges respectively, and the establishment of a fully functional Cloud-based Moodle e-learning platform.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Another major milestone is the establishment of two agreements between academia, government and industry. The one was initiated between Motheo College, the Central University of Technology, and Free State Agriculture. The second partnership agreement involves Boland College and Rennie Farms, a major supplier of horticulture products to Woolworths, Shoprite, and Checkers. Recently, two graduates from Boland College who established an aquaponics business in the Breede Rivier region , also forms part of the partnership. Their business, called Manyolo Aquaponics and Culture, supplies vegetables to restaurants in the region. </p><p><strong>In conclusion</strong>, Mr Manuel Jackson, project manager from Stellenbosch University Water Institute, and Mr Hans Nijhoff, project manager from MSM, thanked delegates for their participation  in the seminar and support for the project.</p><p> <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/BM1_0517.jpg" alt="BM1_0517.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-4" style="margin:5px;width:360px;" /><br></p><p>An esteemed delegation attended the seminar at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) on 17 March 2023. From left to right, in the back row were Mrs Nikita Muller (ACI),  Mr Vincent Uys (Boland College), Dr Estelle Kempen (Stellenbosch University), Mr Cyril Mazibuko (Nkangala TVET College), Mr Joseph Mfopa (Capricorn TVET College), Mr Renoir Hindley (Stellenbosch University Water Institute), Mr Charles Goodwin (Boland College), Mr Mainganye Michael Malivha (Vhembe TVET College), Mr Hans Nijhoff (Maastricht School of Management), Prof Danie Brink (Stellenbosch University),            Elton Valla (Boland College), Ms Siona Rikoo (EWSETA), Ms Makgala Mary Ramonyatse (Capricorn TVET College), andMr Malwandla Khoza (Stellenbosh University Water Institute). In the middle were Ms Boitumelo Shokane (Capricorn TVET College), Ms Keitumetse Goeieman (Motheo TVET College),Mr Andre Muller (West Coast College),           Mr Thato Lufuno Mahosi (Vhembe TVET College), Mr Bradley Jeena (Kleinwinkelhaak), Dr Rykie van der Westhuizen (Stellenbosch University), Dr Michele Carstens (Stellenbosch University Water Institute), Ms Thandiwe Mtyingizani (Sustainability Institute),Ms Rirhandzu Marivate (Sustainability Institute), Mrs Sarie Espach (ACI), Ms Adera Kachieng'a (Nuffic Neso SA), Ms Hayley Rodkin (Principal Elsenburg ATI), Ms Anica Labuschagne (Motheo TVET College) Mrs Bernadette Abrahams (Elsenburg ATI), Dr Patrick Malima (Vhembe TVET College), and Mr Charles Pule (QCTO). In the front row were Ms Refilwe Masilela (Nkangala TVET College), Ms Vuyolwethu Dyubele (Sustainability Institute), Mr Manuel Jackson (Stellenbosch University Water Institute), Ms Sandra Adriaansens (Maastricht School of Management), Mrs Refilwe Mohatlane (Motheo TVET College), Ms Tinny Tshamano (Vhembe TVET College), and Ms Nomalizo Mpati (Boland College). <em>Photo: taken by </em><em>Bjorn Groenewald (SCPS Photos)​</em></p><p>​<br></p>
SU introduces field-skills course in hydrogeology introduces field-skills course in hydrogeologyMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>​The <a href="/english/faculty/science/earthsciences">Department of Earth Sciences</a> at Stellenbosch University (SU) has established a Hydrogeology Field Course to fulfil the urgent need for practical skills required for large-scale development and management of groundwater resources in South Africa.<br></p><p>According to <a href="/english/faculty/science/earthsciences/staff-and-postgrads/academic-staff/dr-reynold-chow">Dr Reynold Chow</a>, lecturer in hydrogeology in the Department of Earth Sciences, the urgent need for hydrogeological field skills was highlighted by the 2015-2018 drought in the Western Cape and the aftermath caused by the lack of skilled managers.</p><p>“Groundwater is a critical alternative water source that can increase the resilience of our water supply systems, but they need to be managed properly," he explains.<br></p><p>The first group of BSc Honours-students, specialising in geoenvironmental science, recently completed a two-week field course at SU's experiential farm Mariendahl, next to Elsenburg experiential farm. Here they could take advantage of SU's pre-existing infrastructure in the form of boreholes and a groundwater treatment plant. The department also acquired state-of-the-art equipment for the field course, such as downhole cameras for creating borehole logs, level loggers for continuous measurement of groundwater levels, and various hydrogeological tools.<br></p><p>During the two weeks, from 4 to 15 July 2022, the students received hands-on training in fundamental hydrogeologic field skills such as groundwater exploration and borehole siting, core logging, well installation and development, taking of water levels, hydraulic well tests and characterisation of the aquifer.<br></p><p>According to Dr Chow, the field course is a good example of how collaboration between academia and industry can equip students with the latest skills required by a fast-changing industry. In this regard <a href="">Mr Reuben Lazarus</a>, a hydrogeologist from the local groundwater consulting company <a href="">GEOSS </a>South Africa and an SU-alumnus, made valuable contributions to the course through his dedicated planning, lecturing, and mentoring of students. Other industry partners are <a href="">Van Walt</a>, <a href="">Alveo Water</a>, and <a href="">Ingerop South Africa</a>.</p><p>The first cohort of students were hugely positive about their hands-on training. One student remarked that “I liked the hands-on experience and being able to apply the theory of what we learned in the classroom". In future, the course will be opened to students from other faculties and universities, as well as industry professionals. <br></p><p>The development of the course was made possible with support from the Stellenbosch University Strategic Fund, the Faculty of Science and the Department of Earth Sciences.<br></p><p style="text-align:left;">​For more information, e-mail Dr Reynold Chow at </p><p style="text-align:center;"><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/IMG_20220708_131710_971.jpg" alt="IMG_20220708_131710_971.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:490px;height:369px;" /> </p><p>The BSc Honours students in geo-environmental science completed the first field skills course in hydrogeology, presented by SU's Department of Earth Sciences in collaboration with industry specialists.  From left to right, Brynn Hunink (demi) and students Kereemang Gaoaaga, Kira Cobbold, Yamkela Mapetshana, Zara Samsodien, Ezelna Germeshuisen, Ongeziwe Gege, and Jandré de Beer from the groundwater consulting company GEOSS.<em> Photo: Reynold Chow</em><br></p>
Climate-smart horticulture can meet Africa’s food security challenges horticulture can meet Africa’s food security challengesMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>​​The climate-smart option of growing produce in greenhouses should be scaled up to meet the challenge of food security in South Africa and Africa.</p><p>So said Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), at the launch of a state-of-the-art, water-smart greenhouse and tunnel at the Mashamba campus of the Vhembe Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in the far north of the Limpopo Province.</p><p>The official handover, which took place on Thursday 17 February 2022, was celebrated with an abundant display of freshly grown cucumbers, green beans and cocktail tomatoes – the produce of a number of horticulture piloting activities in the greenhouse over the past few months.</p><p>The greenhouse is part of an ongoing collaboration between Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Maastricht School of Management (MSM) to strengthen the skills of TVET staff and students for optimising water usage and climate-smart agriculture in South Africa. The project forms part of the Orange Knowledge programme and is funded by the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Several TVET Colleges in South Africa form part of this project.</p><p>Ms Basani Rashley Hlekane, principal of Vhembe College, said the project will go a long way to empower college lecturers and boost the employability of their students.</p><p>Mr Manuel Jackson, project manager at Stellenbosch University, said a needs assessment study conducted from December 2019 to January 2020 highlighted a shortfall in the labour force of people with the necessary skills to work in water-smart agri-horticulture in the private horticulture sector.</p><p>The new greenhouse at the Mashambe campus forms part of a public-private partnership support structure in the region. This structure will, in turn, be supported by a South African-Dutch Triple Helix Platform, which includes stakeholders from the education, private and public sector, Mr Jackson explains.</p><p>The next step in this project is to align the activities in the greenhouse with the incubator centre at the Makwarela campus of Vhembe College. This includes a Centre of Incubation and Entrepreneurship, the 4IR Centre, the Centre for Disability and the HP Life Centre.</p><p>The technical handover was also attended by Mr Frans Ramonyatse, acting regional manager at Limpopo DHET, Ms Dithuso Monare, deputy chair of the Vhembe College Council, Dr Letsoalo Bertha, executive manager of AgriSETA, and the traditional leader Vhamusanda Vho Mashamba and representatives of the local Mashamba tribe.</p><p>During the launch, Mr Jackson and Dr Rykie van der Westhuizen, a crop production specialist, took the delegates on a technical tour through the facilities.    <br></p><p><em>On the photos above, Ms Basani Rashley Hlekane, principal of Vhembe College, and Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training.</em><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Major skills boost in agri-horticulture for TVET Colleges skills boost in agri-horticulture for TVET CollegesMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>​Motheo Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College is the first TVET College in South Africa to have established a technology-driven greenhouse tunnel. The objective is to develop the skills of TVET graduates in the agri-horticultural sector and enhance their employability.<br></p><p>This is one of the milestones in the Stellenbosch University (SU) and Maastricht School of Management's (MSM) three year Orange Knowledge Programme titled “Strengthening Skills of TVET Staff and Students for Optimizing Water Usage and Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa". The project is funded by the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. </p><p>The installation of the greenhouse tunnel is the result of a number of assessment activities which involved researchers from SU, Dutch greenhouse experts coordinated through MSM, as well as TVET staff from Boland, Motheo, and Vhembe Colleges. One of these assessments, conducted from December 2019 to January 2020, highlighted the key industry-driven skills requirement by the private horticulture sector in the domain of water-smart agri-horticulture. The investment in the greenhouse will therefore develop and enhance the skills and employability of TVET graduates. </p><p>During the handover on Friday 13 August 2021, Prof Dipiloane Phutsisi, principal of <a href="">Motheo College</a>, emphasized the need for cooperation and knowledge exchange to ensure successful crop production training in the greenhouse. Dr Rykie van der Westhuizen, a crop production specialist, inspected the greenhouse and approved its operation and functionality by carrying out the official handover and sign-off to Motheo College. Over the next few weeks, Dr Van der Westhuizen will play a crucial role in the operationalization of the greenhouse and starting with horticultural training in the greenhouse for college students.  </p><p>Mr Brent Stevens from Vegtech, the suppliers of the tunnel, also introduced a number of TVET staff to the technical aspects of the greenhouse tunnel. Another greenhouse tunnel has since been completed at <a href="">Vhembe TVET College</a> in Limpopo, and a third tunnel, at <a href="">Boland TVET College</a>, should be completed by November 2021. </p><p><strong>Media inquiries</strong></p><p>Mr Peter Makae</p><p>Manager in the Office of the Principal, Motheo TVET College, Bloemfontein</p><p>E-mail: <a href=""></a></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p>Mr Manuel Jackson</p><p>Programme officer, Stellenbosch University Water Institute</p><p>E-mail:<br></p><p>​<br></p>
SU to implement a wastewater surveillance platform to detect COVID-19 outbreaks on campus to implement a wastewater surveillance platform to detect COVID-19 outbreaks on campusWiida Fourie-Basson<p>​​Stellenbosch University (SU) plans to implement a wastewater-based surveillance platform to detect institutional SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks on two of its campuses.<br></p><p>“This flows from the institution's commitment to do everything realistically possible to protect the campus community", says Prof Gideon Wolfaardt, director of the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) and professor in the Department of Microbiology.</p><p>The wastewater-based surveillance platform has been developed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Bath, in partnership with the South African Medical Research Council (MRC), and funded by the United Kingdom's Newton Fund. The campus-based platform will be supported by a grant from Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies.</p><p>For the two Stellenbosch University campuses, passive sampling devices will be placed at specific settings to sample sewer lines from student residences on certain days of the week. </p><p>Dr Edward Archer, a research associate in the Department of Microbiology, says the wastewater-based platform on campus will serve as an additional measure to increase and improve surveillance of defined communities, such as campus residences.</p><p>“Firstly, it is impossible to do screening tests on every student at regular, short intervals. Secondly, as asymptomatic infections ares more prevalent in younger individuals, it will allow for the early detection of potential infection 'hotspots'," he explains. </p><p>Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa in 2020, he has been working with Prof Wolfgang Preiser from SU's Medical Virology Division and Dr Rabia Johnson, deputy-director of the MRC's Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform (BRIP), to pilot the concept at SU's Tygerberg campus. </p><p><strong>How does the method work?</strong></p><p>Early on in the global COVID-19 pandemic, it was established that genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, consisting of RNA genomic fragments, passes through the digestive system of infected persons, landing up in their faeces. </p><p>“These genomic fragments serve as a molecular fingerprint of the original virus, regardless of whether an infected individual presents with symptoms or not. Higher levels of viral RNA in wastewater treatment works therefore can serve as a valuable early warning system for a rise in the number of infections. It can also be used to evaluate the spread of the disease in communities," Dr Archer explains.</p><p>“The pilot-project at the Tygerberg campus proved that data obtained through this method allowed us to pinpoint blocks or even buildings where infected individuals lived or worked." </p><p><strong>National environmental surveillance system</strong></p><p>The researchers are also involved with SACCESS, the South African Collaborative COVID-19 Environmental Surveillance System. This network, consisting of researchers, health care practitioners and epidemiologists, was established in April 2020 to evaluate the spread of COVID-19 in communities through wastewaster-based epidemiology.</p><p>As part of this network, Dr Archer and Prof Preiser have been working with the MRC to perform routine community-wide wastewater surveillance for the Cape Town metropolitan area and Stellenbosch.</p><ul><li>For more information about these efforts, listen to the Science Café Stellenbosch talk about “Developing a risk prediction platform for COVID-19 using sewage" with Prof Wolfgang Preiser and Dr Edward Archer from Stellenbosch University, and Dr Rubia Johnson from the Medical Research Council, on 19 May 2021. Science Café Stellenbosch in an initiative of SU's Faculty of Science to promote the discussion of scientific issues in a language that everyone can understand.</li></ul><p><strong>Media interviews</strong></p><p>Dr Edward Archer</p><p>Research Associate, Department of Microbiology, Stellenbosch University and one of the coordinators of SACCESS</p><p>E-mail: <a href=""></a></p><p>​</p>
Kayamandi learners to monitor Krom River learners to monitor Krom River Faculty of Science (Wiida Fourie-Basson)<p style="text-align:justify;">Eight learners from Kayamandi have received water monitoring kits from the Department of Water and Sanitation to enable them to monitor the water quality of the Krom River in Stellenbosch.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This is part of an ongoing effort of the Kayamandi River Partnership to improve the health of these two rivers which are heavily impacted by pollution from the nearby light industrial area and storm water runoff from the neighbouring township. The partnership consists of researchers from the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI), the Plankenbrug business community and local schools Kayamandi Primary school, Ikhaya Primary School, Kayamandi High School and Makapula High School.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Leanne Seeliger, project leader and a researcher at SUWI, says the aim of the river monitoring project is also to deepen the learners' knowledge about the importance of monitoring the health of rivers in Stellenbosch and in South Africa.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Through this project, they will now become part of a national effort to involve learners from all over South Africa to become aware of the health of the rivers in their immediate environment. The learners will upload their observations, using the miniSASS kit, to a central website. miniSASS is a simple tool to monitor the health of a river and measure the general quality of the water in that river. It uses the composition of small animals and insects living in rivers and is based on the sensitivity of the various animals to water quality.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For more information on the Kayamandi River Partnership River Monitoring Day, please contact Mr Meluxolo Mbali at 073 823 1454. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For more information about Kayamandi River Partnership see the website on<br></p><p><br></p>
New initiative will boost use of water-smart technologies in agriculture initiative will boost use of water-smart technologies in agricultureMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p></p><p>A multi-stakeholder platform which aims to boost the use of water-smart technologies by farmers in Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga will be launched on 23 February 2021.</p><p>The Triple Helix (3H) initiative will provide a platform for farmers to work with local government, agri-business and research institutions towards finding joint solutions for their specific, local challenges. These solutions range from the introduction of new technologies, to the sharing of knowledge, opening networks to finance and providing skills training. </p><p>The 3H platform is the result of a collaboration between Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Maastricht School of Management (MSM), and facilitated by Agricolleges International (ACI).</p><p>“The 3H platform will act as a multi-stakeholder initiative in the domain of water-smart agriculture and horticulture. It will unite local government, local academia and researchers with farmers and agri-businesses. The aim is to further boost adaptation of water-smart technology in these regions," says project managers Hans Nijhoff from MSM and Manuel Jackson from SU.</p><p>The establishment of this platform is based on a labour market needs assessment, conducted by researchers from SU and MSM in 2019, to gain better insights into the skills needs of the horticultural and agricultural industry sector when hiring graduates from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges in South Africa. The project, “Strengthening Skills of TVET Staff and Students for Optimizing Water Usage and Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa" was funded by the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. </p><p>During the launch of the Triple Helix platform initiative, researchers will provide feedback on their findings from the labour market needs assessment survey. The speakers are Prof Danie Brink and Manuel Jackson from SU, Hans Nijhoff and André Dellevoet from MSM, Huba Boshoff from Nuffic/NESO, Jolanda Andrag from AgriSA, Prof Peliwe Lolwana from the South African Qualifications Authority, Wynand Espach from ACI, Johan Klinck from Motheo TVET College and representatives from the Nkangala, Vhembe and Motheo TVET Colleges.</p><p><strong>Date: </strong>23 February 2021</p><p><strong>Time:</strong> 10:00-14:00</p><p><strong>Platform:</strong> Zoom Meeting</p><p>Join Zoom Meeting</p><p><a href=""></a> </p><p>Meeting ID: 968 0699 9555</p><p>Passcode: 566480</p><p><strong>RSVP:</strong> <a href=""></a></p><p>Image by <a href="">Ngobeni Communications</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Don’t take good-quality drinking water for granted’t take good-quality drinking water for grantedGideon Wolfaardt and Marlene de Witt<p>Sunday (22 March) was World Water Day. In an opinion piece for <em>News24</em>, Gideon Wolfaardt and Marlene de Witt of the Stellenbosch University Water Institute call on all South Africans not to take good-quality drinking water for granted.</p><ul><li>Read the article below or click <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="">here</strong></a> for the piece as published.</li></ul><p><strong>Don't take good-quality drinking water for granted</strong></p><p><strong>Gideon Wolfaardt & Marlene de Witt*</strong></p><p>The drought that we experienced in the Western Cape and other parts of the country has entrenched an awareness of water availability in our minds, with most of us unlikely to return to the “old normal" of water use in the coming years. It took a severe crisis to get us to the point where we think differently about something that we have accepted as a given for most of our lives. </p><p>As people across the globe celebrate World Water Day on 22 March, it is important to reflect on the fact that there is another side to water availability, which many of us have not yet been compelled to think about, which we take for granted every time we open our taps: access to good-quality drinking water that matches global standards. Ironically, we drive past polluted rivers every day without even noticing their poor health any more. Even when we are disgusted by the sight and smell, or saddened by the fact that we cannot use many of our streams and rivers for recreational activities, we're not driven to action and change, because the state of those streams and rivers do not directly impact on our lives; it's not what comes out of our taps. <br></p><p>Water quality has a much more direct and far-reaching impact on our everyday lives than what we realise. Most notably, it impacts on water quantity as it reduces the amount of water available for consumption without extensive and costly treatment, a problem exacerbated during drought. Producers relying on river water for irrigation increasingly face pushback from the export market, or the additional costs of treatment before irrigation. Routine maintenance and upgrades to treatment plants and direct discharge as surface runoff becomes a challenge to an increasing number of financially-constrained municipalities, leading to a growing concern that micro-pollutants such as endocrine disruptors, and micro-organisms pass through poorly-maintained treatment facilities. And with water from the polluted stream or river we drive past every day seeping into the ground, these pollutants are transferred to the groundwater, which supplies our boreholes and increasingly also our bulk water resources for drinking water. Of course our rural and poorer communities are probably most affected by these problems. <br></p><p>Deteriorating water quality has become a major issue and necessitates actions such as identifying sources of pollution, behavioural changes to stop the pollution, innovative technologies that may include nature-based solutions to rectify the situation, with increasing emphasis on socially acceptable approaches. We recognise the value of international experience, technology and management skills in our efforts to address the complex challenges associated with providing water of sufficient quantity and quality. <br></p><p>However, we are also aware of the wealth of traditional and cutting-edge technologies amongst South Africans that can make a contribution in this regard. We need to embrace opportunities to forge partnerships that combine local and international expertise. This should help reduce the instances where efforts to apply international technological advances fail under local conditions, whether it is due to not being appropriate for local conditions, shortage for replacement parts, or due to a lack of local skills for routine maintenance. Co-designing of interventions also helps to overcome social barriers to uptake of new technologies and to mitigate conflict. <br></p><p>Universities, in particular, are spaces where partnerships need to be forged to find optimal and lasting solutions for complex water-related challenges. It was with this in mind that Stellenbosch University (SU) formed a partnership with Germany's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, one of Europe's leading applied research organisations, to establish the Fraunhofer Innovation Platform in Stellenbosch. The Engineering, Sciences and AgriSciences faculties at SU and four institutes that are part of the Fraunhofer Water Systems Alliance (SysWasser), in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance, will work together in the fields of water and energy to develop and implement technologies that are appropriate to Southern Africa. Through the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI), which acts as the local coordinator of this platform, this network will be extended to other disciplines such as community health and social sciences.  <br></p><p>This newly-established Innovation Platform is the result of previous projects on water quality and energy between SU and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. One such project, SafeWaterAfrica, is a good example of how local and international technology and expertise can be combined into workable solutions. It led to the development of a decentralised water treatment system for rural and peri-urban areas. A modular water system was developed in collaboration with two local companies, Virtual Consulting Engineers and Advance Call, for pre-treatment of polluted water before final treatment with a carbon-based electrochemical oxidation technology developed by our Fraunhofer partners. Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT) provided the site for a demonstration unit, which is now used for further development towards water-reuse, with the potential to be also utilized as a facility to train technical staff. <br></p><p>While we continue to look for innovative solutions through partnerships between universities, research institutes and companies, it is essential that public perception over water quality changes. We need to increase awareness to stop the “day zero" of water quality creeping closer. This requires significant education efforts in all our communities and the best place to start urgently is in our homes. <br></p><p><strong><em>* Gideon Wolfaardt and Marlene de Witt are affiliated with the Stellenbosch University Water Institute.</em></strong></p><p><strong><em> ​</em></strong></p><p><br></p>
Grade 7 learner wins new high school uniform in recyclable waste challenge 7 learner wins new high school uniform in recyclable waste challengeWiida Fourie-Basson<p>A Grade 7 learner from Kayamandi Primary School has earned himself a brand new high school uniform from De Jagers in Stellenbosch after he won a recyclable waste collection challenge in Enkanini.<br></p><p>Liyahluma Peteni (15) is one of 11 learners who participated in the challenge as part of an environmental education project called Iqhawe Yemvelo (Nature Hero). The project equips learners from informal settlements to deal with water and waste challenges in their immediate environment. It forms the educational arm of the Amanzi Yimpilo (Water is Health) project, a collaborative effort between the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) and Stellenbosch Municipality to improve municipal water, waste and sanitation services in Enkanini. </p><p>Dr Leanne Seeliger, senior researcher at SUWI and project leader, says they would like to see the uniform for waste programme become adopted by individual schools in Kayamandi: “We want to encourage more sponsors to come on board so that recyclables become a commodity that families can use to buy school uniforms. Not only will this assist the parents, but it will also help to clean up the streets and the rivers in the area."</p><p>Depending on how much recyclables they collected, the other learners received items such as a pair of school shoes, school shirts and pants, also sponsored by De Jagers.</p><p>Mr Devon Strauss, manager of De Jagers' Stellenbosch branch, says they are more than happy to kick-start such a worthy initiative in this way: "Liyahluma Peteni and his friends have instantly improved their community through their actions and they can be very proud of what they have done. We are honoured to contribute to such and exciting project." ​<br></p><p>The young learner's mother, Mrs Ntombesizwe Peteni, says she is very proud of her son, as he even went to the river and the bushes to collect more waste in order to win.<br></p><p>Mr Saliem Haider, manager of the solid waste division at Stellenbosch Municipality, congratulated the learners and thanked De Jagers for their generous contribution.</p><p>Mr Lwando Bottomane, a waste entrepreneur from Kayamandi and part of the Amanzi Yimpilo team, says more waste can be collected if they had access to appropriate containers at the local schools. </p><p>For more information, or to become involved in the waste initiative, contact Mr Bottomane at 060 407 9676 or <a href=""></a></p><p><strong>On the photo: </strong>Liyahluma Peteni (15), a Grade 7 learner from Kayamandi Primary School, collected his high school uniform from De Jagers in Stellenbosch this week, after winning the waste collection challenge in Enkanini. On the photo, from left to right, Mrs Ntombesizwe Peteni and her son, Liyahluma Peteni, with Dr Leanne Seeliger (SUWI). At the back, Mr Lwando Bottomane and Ms Nasiphi Mgqwetno (Amanzi Yimpile), Mr Saliem Haider (Stellenbosch Municipality) and Mr Divan Strauss (De Jagers). <em>Photo: Wiida Basson</em></p><p><br></p>