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.
The world-renowned Working for Water (WfW) Programme celebrates two decades of invasive species clearing and job creation since it’s inauguration on 16 October, 2015. This celebrated programme, which has gained international recognition for its achievements in invasive species clearing, environmental conservation and job creation, was launched in 1995 in the Western Cape by the late Professor Kader Asmal, then Minister of Water Affairs.
The WfW programme is a Department of Environmental Affairs funded programme, which aims to eradicate invasive alien plants and improve water security. It has has created more than 180 000 jobs to young people, women and the physically disabled. It has trained specialist teams that can work in all terrains, such as high altitude teams, as well as water teams to deal with aquatic invaders.
Securing water resources
Invasive plants pose a direct threat not only to South Africa's biological diversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land. They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. These plants can divert enormous amounts of water from more productive uses. More than this, invasive aquatic plants – such as the water hyacinth – affect agriculture, fisheries, transport, recreation and water supply.
WfW works with local communities, by providing jobs, and with national government departments such as environment, agriculture, and trade and industry. It also collaborates with provincial departments of agriculture, conservation and environment, research foundations and private companies.
Since its launch, the programme has cleared more than 1-million hectares of invasive alien plants, all the while providing jobs and training to thousands of people from the most marginalised sectors of society, of these, 52% are women.
WfW 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 in Africa, and the world.
Invasive species are causing billions of Rands worth of damage to South Africa's economy each year. Invasive alien plants (IAPs) pose a direct threat not only to biodiversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land.
They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. IAPs can divert enormous amounts of water from more productive uses and invasive aquatic plants, such as water hyacinth affect agriculture, fisheries, transport, recreation and water supply. It is estimated that invasive plants cover about 10% of the country.
On 1 October, 2014, the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) - Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations became law.
The AIS Regulations contain a National List of Invasive Species (559 plants and animals) which need to be regulated and controlled. These include plants (383), mammals (41), birds (24), reptiles (35), amphibians (7), fresh-water fish (15), terrestrial invertebrates (23), fresh-water invertebrates (8), marine invertebrates (16) and microbial species (7).
These species are further divided into four categories – Category 1a (newly emerging invasives requiring immediate control), Category 1b (widespread invasives which must be controlled and ideally removed from properties), Category 2 (species requiring permits) and Category 3 (species which may remain in place but further trading, propagation or planting is prohibited).
The AIS Regulations state that anyone selling their property is required to notify the purchaser in writing of the presence of invasive species on that land. By not notifying the purchaser, the seller could be held liable for future costs associated with the removal or control of these invasive species, or damage caused due to the presence of invasive species such as damage to buildings and infrastructure by fire fuelled by species such as invasive gum and pine trees.
National Invasive Species Week
The inaugural National Invasive Species Week runs from 10-17 October, 2015 hopes to publicize the 559 invasive flora and fauna species that are listed in South Africa. The week aims to highlight the importance of invasive species in relation to our economy, human health, food security, water supply and biodiversity. This event runs concurrently with National WeedBuster Week, which has been an institution in this country for two decades and celebrates the 198 invasive alien plants listed on the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (Act No 43 of 1983) (CARA) which is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
National Invasive Species Week aims to raise awareness and increase public understanding around invasive plants and animals. Everyone can participate by removing invasive plants from their garden or by joining a local community hack group to remove invasives from their neighbourhood.
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Joburg City Parks and Zoo celebrated National Invasive Species Week on Wednesday 7 October, 2015 with a high profile event in Mondeor, Johannesburg. During a one day blitz, teams from Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Working for Water (WfW) and Joburg City Parks cleared a riverine area in a suburban park removing dense thickets of wattle and bugweed. See our gallery of images taken on the day.