The Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, and Tourism (DEDEAT) has joined forces with the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment (DFFE) and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan (NMB) to launch the national Municipal Cleaning and Greening Programme.
DEDEAT is actively supporting the initiative through various means, including the training of recruited Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) officials in waste management legislations, waste hierarchy principles, waste separation at source, recycling, and waste processing to integrate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into the waste economy.
The department is also working with the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality to assist them with personal protective equipment as part of this programme.
During her speech, DFFE Minister Barbara Creecy confirmed that the programme is a collaborative effort with provinces and municipalities, leveraging their assistance in recruiting public works participants and providing protective clothing and cleaning materials.
The programme, aimed at clearing 7,251 illegal dumping hotspots nationwide, has already generated more than 37,000 work opportunities under the EPWP.
In NMB, 512 sites in need of cleaning have been identified, with 41 already undergoing cleanup. The programme secured a budget for waste collection fleets, improved refuse collection in underserved areas, addressed illegal dumping hotspots, and enhanced waste disposal. The broader clean-up initiative in the Eastern Cape is providing 8,000 job opportunities across municipalities.
The cleaning and greening initiative focuses on sustainability by planting indigenous and fruit trees in rehabilitated dumping sites, addressing water scarcity, and contributing to food security.
Minister Creecy emphasised the environmental impact of illegal dumping, stating that it poses serious risks to livestock, wetlands, rivers, and marine and coastal areas.
Over the past weekend, South Africa sent a delegation to Kenya to participate in the United Nations Environment Assembly’s negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prevent plastic pollution.
Minister Creecy views this participation as a commitment to effectively tackle plastic waste leaching into the country’s environment.
The South African government aims to clean up illegal dump sites in provincial capitals, and as of September 30 this year, 1299 sites or 19% have already been cleared.
The EPWP participants’ scope of work includes daily cleaning of streets, clearing illegal dumping sites, cleaning coastal areas, and revitalising parks. Some projects have even rehabilitated wetlands, crucial for spiritual, economic, and ecological reasons.