The Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) Working for Wetlands Programme has since 2004 invested R1 billion into the rehabilitation of 1200 wetlands around South Africa. This also and created 25 000 job and much needed training.
Wetlands are among the most threatened aquatic habitats in South Africa due to bad land management practices, such as, effluent disposal, overgrazing, unsustainable crop production, pollution, urban development and erosion. These practices the water flow and quality which ultimately destroys the wetland.
They are ecologically important as they moderate water flow and regulate water quality. They store water during wet periods preventing floods and ensuring supply during droughts like the one South Africa is experiencing at the moment. They purify water and control soil erosion.
During the last financial year, 2015/2016, alone, the programme successfully managed to rehabilitate 123 wetlands.
The Working for Wetlands programme is mandated to protect, promote the wise-use and rehabilitate degraded wetlands all over the country. Currently the bulk of the allocated budget goes into rehabilitation of degraded wetlands, and in the process jobs are created and skills are imparted to participants through training. In the 2015/2016 financial year, Working for Wetlands generated over 220 000 person days, of which over 10 000 were training person days. A total of 3233 jobs were created in 2015/16 with a budget allocation of R110 601 659.
The Working for Wetlands programme started in 2000, with a small number of rehabilitation interventions, but has grown to involve over 450 interventions being implemented each year. This is done in excess of about 120 wetlands per year in all the nine provinces.
The impact of the interventions include, concrete structures, earth structures, gabions and re-vegetation. In order to increase its footprint, the programme is gradually moving into compliance, extension, and beginning to target less degraded wetlands systems where simpler, smaller and cheaper interventions can be employed.
To date, from 2004, Just under R1 billion has been invested in about 1200 wetlands; about 25 000 jobs created; with over R2, 7million person days of which 225 000 were training.
Some of the future plans include increasing the programmes footprint, expanding into other areas, and finding simpler and cost effective interventions, as well as catchment level planning to optimise benefits to ecological infrastructure and maximise impact, institutional and policy collaboration and or partnerships. Furthermore through advocacy, by amplifying the value of wetlands and outcomes evaluations to unlock other sources of funding.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.