by Willem Snyman fresh.ngo
‘At bridges, wetlands and on riversides a very pervasive problem exists that we have seen all over in other densely populated areas like Kaalfontein and Ivory Park in Tembisa. It is certainly one of the major problems we want to adress in the upcoming Olievenhoutbosch cleanup.
Mostly it takes the form of small shopping bags full of household rubbish which are deposited daily by the community in certain designated areas. Here they build up very quickly, starting to form an unsightly health hazard and breeding ground for rats. Mostly the piles are not removed by regular trash services, often they are burnt and then washed downstream with flooding.
The problem exists mostly in poorer communities with irregular trash pickup, but is also present in other areas with weekly services. It seems the people don't want to keep their trash in the house at night and bring small bags to these designated areas every day.
The residents are actually extremely neat around their own houses, there seems to however be a lack of public space awareness and of environmental pollution.
One of the solutions is education and raising awareness on the plight of our water and how it affects everything. Another way is the activation of these public riverside spaces by cleaning them up and planting trees for the use of everyone as parks - making them valuable so that people care about these wetlands and riparian areas. Bamboo is very invasive but an indigenous wetland plants that can be used to screen off certain dumping areas.
Apparently skips have been tried, but they were stolen by private companies. It seems one of the big answers would lie in providing proper dustbins for every household, where trash can be kept outside the houses until the pickup days. These could be made in large numbers from recycled plastics, sturdy enough to stand in yards, not be knocked over or attract rats.
Recycling would also help to reduce volumes, to make people more aware and provide a cash incentive. Separation at source needs to be implemented all over our country, perhaps with separate bins or ones with different compartments.
We'd like to tackle this problem as an integrated campaign with council, businesses, recyclers and the communities so that this pervasive problem of our environment and waterways can be solved.
During the cleanup people will get practical experience of the problem, there will be fun educational and cultural events - teaching by example to spread awareness. Another pervasive problem is the burning of tyres to extract scrap metal wires, creating air pollution and a public health hazard.
We'll be looking at innovative and lasting solutions leading up to and during our cleanup campaign in Olievenhoutbosch. This awareness then will persist long afterwards so that the community can take pride in their beautiful, clean and healthy freshwater environment to enhance the lives of everyone.’