This is one of the first public initiatives of the Kayamandi River Partnership – a collaboration between the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) and external stakeholders such as the Stellenbosch River Collaborative, the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, the Stellenbosch Municipality’s Department of Community Development and Security, and Kayamandi Schools.
Other partners include SU’s departments of Microbiology and Curriculum Studies.
Dr Leanne Seeliger, project leader based at SUWI, says previous attempts to address the pollution problems in the Krom and Plankenbrug Rivers have been hampered by issues of sustainability and co-ordination among role players:
“With this partnership, the aim is to develop a fund resourced by key stakeholders in water
management in the area, to ensure continued water monitoring and water education,” she said.
The Plankenbrug River in Enkanini remains one of the most polluted rivers in Stellenbosch.
“Initially we will focus on the Krom River as the initial site
for awareness surveys and river clean ups, as the Plankenbrug River currently poses a health threat to learners and the surrounding community,” Dr Seeliger added.
With this initiative, the Kayamandi River Partnership hopes to build trust, restore community and rebuild civic responsibility through a shared understanding of ethics between
the community and the municipality:
“One of the greatest challenges facing most townships is water management. Many residents were previously excluded from crucial decision-making processes during apartheid and continue to be
so, despite the advent of democracy.
If both the municipality and the community interrogate the principles at hand in water management in this area, then best practice, rather than minimal compliance could be achieved,” she said.
As part of the clean-up, pupils will also be monitoring the quality of the water, thereby contributing to their natural science’s curriculum. Professor Chris Reddy
from SU’s Department of Curriculum Studies taught the children about water testing, using the Schools’ Water Action Project (SWAP) tool kit.
The high point of the week was on Friday March 15, when learners “adopted” and beautified a spot next to the Krom River.
The initiative also received sponsorship of refreshments from local businesses, including Ten of Cups, Timberlea Farming Trust, and Chill Beverages.
The initiative took place ahead of World Water Day, which is today, Wednesday March 20, and South Africa’s National Water Week, from Monday March 18 to Sunday March 24.