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 programme was established in 2012; with an intention to make optimal use of the biomass cleared through the Working for Water programme by creating work opportunities to make products that will assist Government meet its needs. The programme further aims to explore the range of products needed/ideal for institutions such as hospitals, clinics, community centres and other government service centres. A particular emphasis is placed on the needs of disadvantaged schools, including school desks, benches and other furniture. Products manufactures include eco-coffins, wattle screens, garden décor items, fencing, wooden flash-drive cases, charcoal, lampshades and basket-ware.
Six factories in the following provinces: Kwa-Zulu Natal, two in Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. These factories have created 1120 job opportunities and various skills development interventions. Skills training provided for factory employees include carpentry, chainsaw training, machine maintenance, tree felling and first aid.
Through this programme the department managed to deliver more than 100 000 desks to schools in disadvantaged communities around the country.
WoF is mandated to implement Integrated Fire Management, which includes supporting the development of the Fire Protection Association (FPA) structure under the National Veld and Forest Fire Act of 1998. The multi-partner Working on Fire Programme is implemented by the FFA Group of Companies, a leading supplier of Integrated Fire Management Services (IFMS) in South Africa.
and education, prevention and fire suppression skills. These young men and women form veld and forest fire fighting ground crews, stationed at bases around the country to help stop the scourge of wildfire, which costs the South African economy billions of Rands annually.
The multi-million-rand job creation Programme is primarily geared towards assisting government to fulfil its job creation and social upliftment promise to the people of South Africa. There are currently more than 5 000 beneficiaries in the Programme, 85% of whom are youth, 29% are women (the highest level in any comparable fire service in the world). On average, some of 54% of the government funds are spent on wages with an additional 24% spent on indirect employee costs such as training, personal protective equipment (PPE) and transport. This is the highest level of beneficiary benefits in the EPWP Programmes and has been confirmed in recent impact study where beneficiaries report significant changes in their lives and their families’ living standards.
Since the programme’s inception in 2004, Working for Wetlands has invested more than R725 million in the rehabilitation of more than 1011 wetlands countrywide. This has improved and/or secured the health of more than 80 000 hectares of wetland area. In the process, the programme has provided 18 463 employment opportunities, with 2,3 million person days worked up to date. In line with Expanded Public Works Programme’s emphasis on training, Working for Wetlands has also provided 193 780 days of training both vocational and life skills.
The nature of the projects ranges from clearing of invasives, re-vegetation, installation of gabions and concrete structures, earthworks, earthen structures and ecologs.
Working for Wetlands is government programme is currently managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). While the programme’s primary focus is wetland rehabilitation, the protection, rehabilitation and sustainable use of those wetlands is simultaneously entrenched within the programme’s core aims and objectives.
The programme’s aim is promoting optimal use of biomass cleared through the Working for Water Programmes in creating work opportunities to generate energy. The programme is still in its infancy stages. The pilot project in Eastern Cape focuses on using invasive alien plan biomass and bush encroachment biomass for generation of energy (gasification, pellets for power stations and other options).
Biomass is cheaper than coal and is regarded as part of South Africa’s green economy agenda.
The programme officially started in 2003 known as Working for Land. Due to the merger of the DEA’s SRPP & WfW from Water Affairs in 2012, the programmes was then renamed Working for Ecosystems. Through this programme land restoration or treatment has been done on 5883 hectors of land, 80 contracts awarded to Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) which resulted to 10084 person days.
The programme aims to restore the composition, structure and function of the degraded land, thereby enhancing ecosystem functioning, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation and purification. In doing so, and by reducing environmental risks, it will improve the sustainability of livelihood and productive potential of land, and promote economic empowerment in rural areas, improve natural species diversity and landscape and catchment stability and resilience, and promote the development of a market for ecosystems.
This focus area entailed consolidation of network of protected areas to conserve natural resources and cultural heritage, development and upgrading of infrastructure in protected areas.
Some of the projects the programme prides itself on are: the renovation of chalets at Doornkloof Nature Reserve, Northern Cape Province and the building of Chalets at Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, Free State Province.
The other focus areas under this programme are erection of perimeter fence around the protected areas, building of access roads, building of staff lodging facilities, development of hiking trails, construction of environmental education and environmental information centres and development of visitor/recreational facilities such as campsites, viewing decks campsite, caravan parks, etc.
Land is central to rural livelihood where people have limited opportunities and are far from industrialised centres which would serve as an alternative source of income. Rural livelihoods depend entirely on the natural resources for almost everything from food to source of energy. The dependency has left rural people with little or no alternative to sustain their livelihoods. The result of such dependencies and over-usage of natural resources has led to undesirable outcomes such as overgrazing, soil erosion and deforestation. In trying to circumvent such adverse effects, the Working for land programme is focused on rehabilitation and restoration of degraded areas. The project deliverables range from:
• Gabion construction
• Planting of vetiver grass
• Tree planting
• Construction of storm water channels
• Education and awareness
One of the most successful projects in this category was the building of gabions, earthworks and re-vegetation in the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality in Limpopo. The project alone created provided job opportunities to 71 beneficiaries.
The Working for the Coast Programme (WfC) of the Department of Environmental Affairs was established to help deal with some of the challenges in line with the Integrated Coastal Management Act 28 of 2008. The WfC programme is informed by the broader Expanded Public Works Programme, which is using labour intensive methods in its implementation.
The focus area works with municipalities and conservation agencies to manage the coastline and ensures the sustainable use of the coast’s natural resources. The categories of projects under the programme are:
• Improvement of access to and along the coast
• Cleaning of the coast
• Removal of illegal & abandoned structures
• Removal of invasive alien vegetation in collaboration with Working for Water programme
• Rehabilitation of degraded areas
• Monitoring and compliance in collaboration with EIAs
Some of the projects that have been funded under the WfC programme are:
• Building of Boardwalk and Ablution facilities at Isimangaliso, KwaZulu-Natal Province
• Boardwalk maintenance at Garden Route National Park, Knysna
• Fencing maintenance at Harkerville SanParks Recreation
• Cleaning the coastline at Paternoster
• Cleaning the coastline at Saldanha Bay