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Clear Rivers Campaign


South Africa is a water scarce country and named the 38th driest country in the world; with a rapidly increasing population.

South Africa’s rainfall is unpredictable and common periods of drought limit the water resources even further. Rivers that used to flow throughout the year are now dry, while others flow only during rainy seasons. Years from now, the demand for water might exceed the amount of available water in our country. This means that we must use and share our water more effectively.

The health of the rivers in our country is threatened by excessive use of the water and the riverbanks. If we pollute the river in one place, we affect the condition of the river for a long distance downstream. A river performs functions such as the ability to clean itself, best, when it is healthy.

Therefore, active and responsible citizenry is encouraged across spectrum where people from all walks of life become participants in promoting healthy rivers. The relationship between communities and healthy rivers can never be overstated as it is community members who must take care of our rivers to ensure that they are not filtered with filthy litter.

It is for this reason that the Department of Water and Sanitation connects South Africans to their sources of water and the natural infrastructure that are crucial for a water secure future. This is done annually, when South Africans are called to clean up rivers and water ecosystems, as part of dedicating their 67 minutes of goodwill, during Mandela Month. The 2019 theme for Mandela Month is ´Action Against Poverty”.

For DWS, this theme carry a lot of meaning as we strive to ensure that each and every citizen, especially the poor, marginalised and previously unserved, do gain access to water. We know that most of those that have no access to piped water use water from various natural water resources such as streams and rivers. The Clear Rivers campaign is one attempt by the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure clean rivers and allow for poverty stricken communities near rivers to have clean and usable water. In this way, we are ensuring dignity of the poor amongst us as a nation.

Objectives of the Campaign

The objective of the Clean Rivers campaign is to undertake a collaborative effort and actively engage communities as well as promoting and creating ongoing awareness and education on protecting our water resources. Fostering volunteerism among communities is actively encouraged as part of a proactive approach to protecting our rivers, streams, wetlands and other water ecosystems, given the drought that still persists in large parts of the country.

The envisaged outcomes of the campaign seek to ensure the following:

  • Environmentally conscious communities;
  • Well informed/ educated communities
  • Pollution free rivers.

Benefits of Healthy Rivers

In many places in South Africa rural people depend, for their livelihood, on products derived directly from rivers. As a result, their relationship with rivers is close and their need for healthy rivers, critical. The benefits of the healthy rivers are however not only limited to the rural communities but also urban communities who use rivers for recreational practices such as fishing.

Domestic Benefit

Communities benefit from clean and healthy rivers. Clean and fresh water assists communities in their daily activities including consumption, cooking and washing. The fish that live in healthy rivers can be used as an excellent food source. The dense, indigenous, riparian vegetation around healthy rivers also attracts animals and birds. Communities and even livestock particularly in rural communities stand a better chance of an improved quality of life when our rivers are clean and healthy.

Economic Benefit

Different types of plants grow in and on the banks of our rivers. Some of the plants provide communities with building materials such as roofing for huts and or houses. Communities also use reeds and other wetland vegetation to make baskets, mats, curtain blinds and handbags. Wetland vegetation can help economic development if it is harvested in a sustainable way

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