South Africa's Environmental Programmes
In order to tackle our country’s socio-economic challenges, the government adopted the Outcomes based approach to improve government performance and providing focus on service delivery. The government then introduced the Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP) initiative aimed at drawing a significant number of unemployed South Africans in a productive manner that will enable them to gain skills and increase their capacity to earn income.
The Environmental Programmes (EP) is one of the branches within the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) responsible for identifying and ensuring implementation of programmes that employ Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP) principles to contribute towards addressing unemployment in line with the “decent employment through inclusive economic growth” outcome, by working with communities to identify local opportunities that will benefit the communities. Through this branch there has been immense contribution to the country’s economic status through massive job creation opportunities an infrastructure development.
The main goal of the branch is to alleviate poverty and uplift households especially those headed by women through job creation, skills development, and use of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) whilst at the time contributing to the achievement of the departmental mandate.
The Working for Water (WfW) Programme aims to control and contain invasive alien plants. The WfW programme was launched in 1995 and administered previously through the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and now the Department of Environmental Affairs. This programme works in partnership with local communities, to whom it provides jobs, and also with government departments including the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Agriculture, and Trade and Industry, provincial departments of agriculture, conservation and environment, research foundations and private companies.
Since its inception, the programme has cleared more than two million hectares of invasive alien plants providing jobs and training to approximately 26 000 people per year from among the most marginalised sectors of society, of which, 56% are women. In addition, over 50 000 people particularly from the rural parts of the country, have benefited through employment opportunities from the WfW Programme. It currently runs over 300 projects in all nine of South Africa’s provinces.
The programme is globally recognised as one of the most outstanding environmental conservation initiatives on the continent. It enjoys sustained political support for its job creation efforts and the fight against poverty.
WfW considers the development of people as an essential element of environmental conservation. Short-term contract jobs created through the clearing activities are undertaken, with the emphasis on endeavouring to recruit women (the target is 60%), youth (20%) and disabled (5%). Creating an enabling environment for skills training, it is investing in the development of communities wherever it works. Implementing HIV and Aids projects and other socio- development initiatives are important objectives.