The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Patricia de Lille, announced today (19 October, 2011) that 400 women and youth from the City of Cape Town’s most vulnerable sectors will be employed in a special environmental project established and launched in memory of Professor Kader Asmal, the founder of the Working for Water (WFW) job creation programme.
Mrs Louise Asmal, wife of the late Professor Kader Asmal, attended the dedication and launch of the project, which will be known as the Kader Asmal Integrated Catchment Management Project.
A partnership between the City of Cape Town and the National Resources Management Programmes (which includes Working for Water), the project is funded by the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and aims to alleviate poverty through job creation.
It is fitting that any environmental project launched to honour Professor Kader Asmal focuses on rivers, catchment areas and water quality as he felt passionately about the subject.
There are 20 major catchments in the Greater Cape Town area. The majority of these rivers and wetlands are invaded by alien plants and are badly polluted. The current situation not only impacts on ecosystem functioning, but also can pose potential health risks.
Polluted rivers are aesthetically unpleasing and prevent residents from enjoying recreational water sports. As such, urgent intervention is required to turn this situation around.
The project is planned to take place in two phases. The first phase will target the catchments of the Diep, Hout Bay, Eerste/Kuils, Zeekoevlei, Sand River and Salt River.
High impact interventions will involve removing litter and invasive plants. There will also be initiatives to address the source of the pollution and raise awareness amongst residents of the problems associated with pollution in rivers.
The second phase will focus on the maintenance of the catchments. A river warden system will be developed to detect pollution and monitor alien plant infestations. Teams will be brought in to respond quickly to deal with the problems, thereby offering a sustainable way forward for the health of the rivers.
The ultimate aim of the Kader Asmal Integrated Catchment Management Project is employ 400 people for a two year period as part of the Mayoral Special Jobs Programme to improve the river ecosystem health and functioning around the City of Cape Town.
Healthy rivers are more resilient when faced with periods of flood and drought. Moreover, they are attractive to visitors, offer residents a place for water sports and demonstrate that improved service delivery is part of developing a safe and caring city.