‘Clear Rivers Campaign’ hits Dirty Water Systems across SA on Mandela Day

JOHANNESBURG, July 19 – A Mandela Day clean-up of river systems around South Africa, including drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB), could be vital to future water security in the region.

This is according to Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) acting Head of Sustainability Ntsako Baloyi during a Clear Rivers Campaign as part of Mandela Day activities, in partnership with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and other key stakeholders.

The campaigns targeted a number of river systems as part of Mandela Day on Monday, including a Presidential event in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, the Apies River in North West, the Kaalspruit River in Gauteng and the Renoster River in Mangaung.

The river clean-up event in NMB was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa and DWS Minister Senzo Mchunu , while DWS Deputy Ministers David Mahlobo and Dikeledi Magadzi attended river clean-up events in Mangaung and Moretele Municipality in North West respectively. CCBSA operates its Lakeside production facility in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

The Clear Rivers Campaign concentrates efforts on areas where streams or rivers situated near  communities experience river pollution due to illegal dumping of waste. Clean up activities include removal and litter picking, environmental education, and rodent and pest control awareness.

Baloyi said that healthy watersheds are essential to create balanced, sustainable, and long-term water security.  Watersheds are areas that drain or “shed” water into a body of water.

“We live in a water-stressed country, and collectively, we are working hard to stave off Day Zero in Nelson Mandela Bay, only a few short years after we faced a similar situation in Cape Town,” Baloyi said.

“Healthy watersheds are about rehabilitation, restoration and protection of our watersheds and catchment areas to address long-term, sustainable and cost-effective water security through nature-based solutions such as clearing of waste and alien invasive species.”

Also, in commemoration of Mandela Day, around 2000 volunteers worked at various locations around the country to clear the rivers of waste and other hazardous material.

Volunteer teams managed to clear 1300 bags of plastic waste from the various river systems.

Coca-Cola’s Water Stewardship Strategy 2030 is a three-pronged approach around stewardship of water including regenerative operations, healthy watersheds, and resilient communities.

Sustainable water stewardship is critical in a country such as South Africa which is one of the most water scarce countries in the world and prone to droughts. SA also has more than three million households without access to clean running water.

Regenerative operations are intended to reduce local water challenges by preventing water wastage, reducing the amount of water being used and safely discharging water, as well as through reducing, reusing, recycling and replenishing water within CCBSA operations.

Enhanced community water resilience is focused on the provision of clean access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, especially for women and girls who are the most vulnerable in most of the communities in which CCBSA operates.

Healthy watersheds are about rehabilitation, restoration and protection of watersheds and catchment areas to ensure long term, sustainable and cost-effective water security through nature-based solutions such as clearing of alien invasive species and cleaning up of waste.

According to the DWS, a 2019 study by IWA Publishing, a leading global publisher of water, wastewater and environmental publications, the Kaalspruit River near Tembisa in Gauteng is a prime example of a “highly polluted” river system in South Africa.

The river flows through two municipalities, the City of Johannesburg (COJ) and Ekurhuleni (COE), including the Clayville industrial area and the surrounding communities of Tembisa and Ivory Park. CCBSA has three manufacturing plants in the two municipalities.

Minister Mchunu was also taken to CCBSA’s Coke Ville project, an off-grid, solar-powered groundwater harvesting and treatment programme, targeted at indigent communities experiencing water insecurity.

Launched in 2020, Coke Ville Project has generated more than 150 million litres of water and  benefitted more than 15,000 households in urban and peri-urban communities across nine sites in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal, with a projected 12 more systems planned for 2022 and nine in Eastern Cape. Nozicelo Ngcobo CCBSA’s – Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Director, said safe and clean water is imperative for healthy communities and also critical to the long-term business sustainability of CCBSA.

“We are mindful that reliable access to good and safe water is essential to life, nature, and the health of our communities,” she added. “CCBSA is a leader in using water responsibly in our operations and giving it back,” concluded Ngcobo.

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