Pretoria- The current drought, desertification and land degradation were the issues discussed when Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana visited the community of Sterksruit in the Eastern Cape recently.
Friday’s visit saw Ministers Molewa and Zokwana as well as Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi heighten public awareness about desertification, land degradation and the draught.
The purpose of the Ministers’ visit was to inspect the extent of desertification, land degradation and drought in the area, and determine what needs to be done to enhance the various strategies implemented to address the challenge.
During the public awareness drive, the Ministers visited a pilot land rehabilitation project funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP).
The R21 million project is implemented through the labour intensive Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), and has created work opportunities for 158 local people of which 93 are women, 72 youth, and four were people living with a disability.
The aim of the project is to address the impacts of desertification, land degradation, drought, rehabilitation and restoration.
The project also aims to help with job creation, small business development and skills development in the area. Jozana’s Hoek, Magwiji, Sundudza and Jozana’s neck are the areas that the project is targeting.
It entails erosion control, rehabilitation of dongas, construction of gabion structures, and re-vegetation of the area through the planting of shrubs and trees that are indigenous to the area.
In addition, the land rehabilitation project is contributing to the development of small business enterprises. Six small businesses have been used in the first phase to provide services in transportation, the provision of training, provision of protective clothing, materials and equipment.
The second phase of the project began in January 2015 and is expected to conclude in August 2016. This phase has employed 110 local people (57 women, 73 youth, and five people living with disability). It has provided training opportunities to local people employed in the project.
Speaking to the Sterkspruit community Minister Molewa, explained that “non-accredited training “ has been implemented covering a variety of courses including first aid, health and safety, environmental awareness, HIV/AIDS and life skills.