Many cities in South Africa have taken part in National Water Week program acknowledging that water is a scarce resource and we need constructive and innovative ideas to manage and conserve it.
Fracking and Water are inextricably linked. The threat of gas exploration and fracking looms over large parts of the Eastern Cape and KZN – important water catchment areas. Matatiele and Pietermaritzburg held gatherings on 17 March to highlight the dangers that exploration for unconventional gas pose to our water factories.
Nicky McLeod Reports from Matatiele
We were privileged today to be part of a more than 900 strong march of well behaved learners in Matatiele. Youngsters from Bergview, FocusEd, Hardenberg and Kind Edward
Schools arrived at the Matatiele Town Hall with hundreds of amazing posters and banners proclaiming AMANZI NGAWETHU! SAFE CLEAN WATER! WATER & OIL DON’T MIX
The Matatiele Local Municipality allowed permission for this peaceful water awareness march, and the Traffic Dept and Police assisted with escorting the colourful singing, dancing learners and members of the public along Main street for 1.5km to King Edward school fields.
Mr Lumko Mboyi from LIMA (assisted by Mme Sissie Matela from ERS) was the lively MC who kept the kids entertained with questions and information.
The Celebrity Cleanwater Challenge was heaps of fun! A bottle of warm suspicious looking water, and a bottle of icy clear water were presented. The kids had to choose which one to throw over the principals’ heads. Mr Spies and Mr van Rooyen took their icy dousing well. Mr Harrison ran away, then grabbed the bottle and threw the water on the organisers! The kids were delighted.
Prizes were awarded for the most energetic marcher, best banners and most innovative posters: these were kindly donated by Pick N Pay. SPAR and Alfred Nzo District Municipality kindly provided cold drinks and hot dogs and fruit, and LIMA sponsored ice lollies.
Thanks to DWS for promoting water week nationally, and for endorsing our event. Thanks to all of you (you know who you are) who helped to make this such an awesome event. Viva Matat, viva UCPP!
A great day, lots of fun and LOTS of awareness about the most important stuff of all: clean water forever. More info at www.umzimvubu.org
Pandora Long Reports from Pietermaritzburg
In just a short time, DUCT Education Team members manage to get all the permissions required, route planned, education programme worked out, icebreakers, lunch packs, guests in place. Someone said the nigh before “Good weather forecast – 26 degrees, going to be a great walk!” And then the heavens broke loose!
The day of the walk dawned clear blue skies but the deluge of the previous night left its mark in huge gullies down driveways, a complete traffic gridlock in PMB, a power blackout and a flooded Msunduzi River! How does one make sense of ‘drought to deluge’ in one part of a catchment in one day, and yet in other parts not a drop to ease the critical drought status of parched land, parched rivers?
By 9 o’clock one hundred bright eyed DUCT Eco-Clubbers had joined us to play games, hear presentations and make posters before setting off for our walk at 11am.
Joining us were a group of adults from various NGO’s including Julia Colvin of WESSA Water Explorers who has partnered with DUCT Education presenting ‘Fracking’ as the topic to 10 of our schools during term one.
With banners and flags held high we set off along the banks of the Msunduzi River as a bright procession of singing, chanting children. Not protesting but rather proclaiming what we do want. “Healthy Rivers”, ”Save water”, ‘No fracking”.
The energy and enthusiasm was infectious as we streamed across College Road, traffic waiting on either side, for these child messengers to pass. Camps Drift Weir was spilling its bright red burden of topsoil stained water, litter lined the banks were the flood was slowly receding.
Today was for joining together joyfully, for positive messages and for kindred spirits, today the river would take care of herself, washing her load high into the surrounding vegetation. Already the DUCT canoes were out on Campsdrift cutting loose drifting trees, repairing trash booms. Today we would walk and sing about the things we were going to do and pledge to do them tomorrow.
Have you ever seen the bridge across the Msunduzi river just behind the Oval Cricket field in Alexander Park? It links the park to a little pathway at the end of Peter Kerchoff Street. It’s a beautiful wooden arched structure. Perhaps you’ve seen it, but have you seen it filled with one hundred children?! One hundred banner waving, flag wielding, smiling, singing, ‘change the world’ children. Children from suburbs and townships of Pietermaritzburg, each with their own unique experience of the walk, raising their individual voice through posters, song and chanting, each with their own story to tell and their own vision of the future.
With one beautiful message to share with the world? A message about the Drought in KZN and the need to conserve our precious water resources, a message about the restoration of our rivers and riparian eco-systems, a message about healthy rivers = healthy people, a message about sustainable lifestyle practices, harvesting water, conservation gardening, clean energy and an urgent call to the people of KwaZulu-Natal to let them know about the threat to KZN’s water resources and rivers by unconventional gas exploration and extraction (‘fracking’)
The walk was held in memory of assassinated Brazilian environmental activist and 2015 Goldman prize winner, Berta Caceres. Berta led her people in the protection of rivers, of the earth and for an ideal where all people live and work for a society that can coexist in a dignified way, a society that protects life. In her acceptance speech Berta said, “Let us wake up! Let us wake up, humankind! We’re out of time.”
I hope one day you get to see a bridge full of happy, healthy, bright eyed children who understand the importance of our precious water resources and who are willing to stand up and take responsibility for the protection and safety of our KZN heritage which will, one day, be their inheritance. I hope you get to see children, who are both wise and wide awake, spanning the banks of our KZN rivers!
A huge thank you to the teachers and children that participated and everyone who helped make the walk the success that it was!
Can anyone be in any doubt about what the youth think of mining companies tampering with the water towers, rivers, wetlands and streams that are their future? This is our water! Amanzi ungawethu!
National Water Week is an awareness campaign by the Department of Water & Sanitation. It serves as a powerful campaign mechanism reiterating the value of water, the need for sustainable management of this scarce resource and the role water plays in eradicating poverty and under-development in South Africa. This occasion presents an opportunity for South Africans to reflect on how the progress made in the past 20 years and how South Africans will work together to implement Vision 2030.