/ 29 July 2016

AECI is keeping river invaders at bay for better water quality and quantity

Aeci Is Keeping River Invaders At Bay For Better Water Quality And Quantity

Wise Wayz Water Care

Runner-up: Community Conservation Award

When the AECI Community Education and Development Trust (CEDT) heard about the work of over 100 Folweni community members, who were voluntarily clearing alien vegetation and solid waste from the Umbogintwini River, they felt they could actively contribute to the project.

Founded in April 2016, Wise Wayz Water Care (WWWC) formally brings together three volunteer groups under CEDT and teaches green skills to the team members.

“At the start of the project all the beneficiaries were unemployed, with few skills,” says Kirsten Mahood, project co-ordinator. “Over time we hope this will change as various participants gain different skills such as alien invasive plant clearing, vegetable production, recycling and environmental education and monitoring.

“These skills will then assist the developing teams to start SMMEs or one-man businesses, allowing them to generate a sustained income through the skills they have gained.”

Additionally and importantly, the local river — a vital life source — is cleaned. To date, over 120 team members have received training in aquatic ecology, and the use of citizen science tools to monitor water quality and quantity.

“The work that WWWC does contributes not only to cleaner water, but also more water, as alien invasive plants are recognised as having a serious impact on water quantity,” she says.

Further sustainable initiatives have been activated, where teams with more skills in the development of riparian vegetable gardens (adjacent to watercourses or wetlands) have passed their knowledge on to teams that do not have these skills.

Additional training has been given in project management. The teams have received vital safety equipment for river care work, as well as the tools necessary to carry out this work. The project has also provided much-needed administration tools in the form of computers, printers and other office provisions.