Story by Patrick Baidoo, Ghana Watch.net. Photos by Fredrick Mugira. Cape Town, South Africa
Courtesy – United Nations
With the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] fast approaching the United Nations target line of 2015, the South African Government as part of its efforts to make water, sanitation and hygiene [WASH] education and education accessible to the people has commenced the community and school drama program. This is meant to promote the need to keep a safer environment.
The initiative which actually is targeted at the entire populace has the youth as its primary focus . As means of really get the message across to school children the South African Department of Water Affairs has adopted the involvement of showbiz icons in drama’s or theatre works which carry or portray the need to conserve water and good sanitation practices.
One of such programs was held at the Khayelitsha Sports and Recreational Center in Cape Town, South Africa on 21 March 2011 as part of activities to celebrate the United Nations World Water Day 2011.
The over 300 school children who were drawn from the Khayelitsha community and its environs were impressed with the approached by the government and called for the sustainability of the initiative.
Mafuya Simnikiwe, 14 year old pupil, from the Matthew Goniwe High School says that she had learnt a lot from the performance and that she would educate her friends, school mates and family members on the need to conserve water.
“I have learnt that every little water that I conserve will save more water for generations to come hence I will inform everybody about saving the environment with good practices,” she notes.
She indicates the use of known personalities in the entertainment industry as a means of sending messages related to WASH was laudable and should be continued.
On her part during an interview with some African journalists during the event, the South African Deputy Minister of Water and Environment, Rejoice Mabudafhasi stressed that the initiative was one of the strategies that have been adopted by government to sustain the environment and make water accessible to all.
She noted that South Africa was doing everything possible to achieve goal seven of the MDGs which upholds governments and communities to promote good environmental practice. “The youth are our ambassadors in this drive and as such we will not relent to get the message across,” she said.
The Deputy Minister further noted that the provision of better sanitation facilities and potable water was a constitutional right and as such the government was committed to carrying out that mandate.
Other, initiatives as announced by the Minister under its free basic water project was the supply of potable water to persons without income to afford this essential commodity in communities under its human settlements program in informal dwellings [slums].
Notwithstanding she said that the education and awareness program will be intensified in the communities to ensure that people conserve water and save the environment. “While we are educating the populace the government is also providing 6,000 litres of water freely to persons, and households in communities that do not have the means to afford potable water,” she indicated.
To ensure that people adhere to laws on water conservation, pollution, and sanitation the Chief Director of the Department of Water Affairs, Rashid Khan added that the Blue Scorpion Squad had been formed to bring defaulters of these bye laws to book. “We will not relent on our efforts. It is our civic and constitutional right to protect the people and communities,” he indicated.
The South African government as part of its effort to promote the conservation of water and a safer environment annually holds a National Water and Sanitation Week in conformity with the UN World Water Day between March 21 and 22 hence these initiatives are intended to achieve stated objectives.