Just over R28 million has been ploughed into seven Eastern Cape Expanded Public Works programmes by the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) to ramp up job creation in the province.
The announcement was made by the MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mlungisi Mvoko at the Emalahleni Emahleni Local Municipality launch.
It follows the MEC’s commitment to creating 925 jobs through the EPWP’s environment and culture stream in his 2021/22 policy speech.
MEC Mvoko says the EPWP’s Environment and Culture gives workers the ability of workers to earn an income, gain skills while they work and increase their capacity to earn a living once they exit the programme.
Beyond jobs, the programme helps municipalities to address waste management service backlogs especially where the waste collection service is not rendered by municipalities.
“We have made good progress with the funded projects. Already six of the seven projects have completed the recruitment and procurement of equipment and personal protective equipment,” explains Mvoko.
He explains that the benefits is much than jobs. Unsurprisingly, these programmes also preserve and protect the environment.
The programmes target alien plant eradication that conserves the indigenous plant species and improves soil conditioning, increases the water flow in freshwater systems, stabilises land against soil erosion and mitigates climate change vulnerabilities on society.
The community benefits through the clearing of illegally dumped waste and greening, open spaces benefit the environment and society is able to establish community nurseries which act as banks for sustainable production of trees also support ancillary industries associated with timber production and manufacturing.
Furthermore, waste collection can be extended in unserviced areas by using local labour, particularly women and youth-headed households.
A closer look at the programme shows that the Sakhisizwe Local Municipality has been funded with R2,5 million to eradicate black wattle in six villages of Cala. One hundred jobs were created in six months.
DEDEAT also funded the Emalahleni Local Municipality with R3 million to remove a poisonous plant species (Cestrum species, Inkberry plant) project in Cacadu villages. Another 101 work opportunities will be created for eight months.
During the current local government administration period, there has been an increase in the number of funded businesses and enterprises in the Joe Gqabi District compared to previous years.
EPWP links marginalised people with opportunities and resources to participate in the mainstream economy, integrate sustainable rural development and urban renewal, create land-based livelihoods, promote community-based natural resource management and rehabilitate degraded lands and protect biodiversity
The programme uses different environmental streams to create mass employment in waste management and recycling as a way of building SMMEs and creating local jobs.
It also helps to create mechanisms to protect the environment and the use of enviro-friendly waste management technologies.