Restoring natural landscapes through waste clean-ups

By Supplied Time of article published Jun 5, 2021

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Since the start of the pandemic, South Africa has seen a significant increase in the volumes of medical waste and discarded personal protective equipment (PPE).

While most parts of the country receive an adequate waste management service to discard medical waste and used PPE, some towns and communities are afflicted with piles of this waste stream from illegal dumping.

“It is an unfortunate circumstance that affects both the natural ecosystem and the health of residents,” said Moudy Mudzielwana, founding director at Tshikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates.

“It is the rural communities that are affected the most, as residents do not have as frequent access to waste infrastructure and collection services.”

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Speaking ahead of World Environmental Day 2021 Moudy Mudzielwana of Tshikovha reiterates the importance behind the theme for 2021 which is to “restore our ecosystems“.

Ecosystem restoration is a global environmental challenge. It means repairing billions of hectares of the natural landscape so that people have access to food, clean water and jobs. This is a challenge that is very much prevalent in South Africa.

Locally, Tshikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates are currently working with communities within the Emalahleni Municipality in Mpumalanga, that have been affected by severely degraded environments from illegal dumping, and the ongoing mining operations.

“Post Covid-19 lockdown, we organised a clean-up campaign in Phola, Ogies in Emalahleni. Our objective was to clean up areas that have become illegal dumpsites while educating local residents on the importance of recycling and waste management,” said Mudzielwana.

Over the years, the natural landscape in Emalahleni has become severely disturbed by mining. Almost 69 mines are operating within the area totalling approximately 3000 hectares of disturbed biodiversity or natural environment.

“Our efforts were guided by the need for reinforcing the status quote of the natural environment in the area. Along with our waste clean-up efforts, we are promoting the planting of indigenous trees in affected areas to restore the local ecosystem,” said Mudzielwana.

World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on this, engaging governments, businesses and citizens to address these pressing environmental issues. “Our focus is on our local environment and local communities who are adversity impacted by illegal dumps and pollution,” said Mudzielwana.

“A clean environment that is not harmful to your health or wellbeing, and to have the environment protected for future generations is your constitutional right. Therefore, not only do we aim to protect and restore impacted ecosystem, but we also aim at creating awareness so that residents can take action to protect their own constitutional right,” added Mudzielwana.

“We would like to encourage more mining houses, organisations and individuals to invest in trees, waste bins, education materials for the greater awareness programme in Emalahleni Municipality,” concluded Mudzielwana.

To stay up to date with Tskikovha Green and Climate Change Advocates and their work within Emalahleni Municipality, visit their website; Climate Advocates.

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