Action 24 SGF WEJF

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[av_heading heading=’Greening Waterberg Project’ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#669933′ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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The Waterberg Region was declared a priority area by the former Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on July 2012. Yet the area is still dealing with numerous environmental issues that affect the local communities directly, but also contribute to broader environmental degradation. The coal industry (mining and power generation) is one of the main contributors to these problems. Mining activities are responsible for land degradation and water pollution, which undermines the right to clean water. The coal-fired power plants in the area emitting heat-trapping greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. This global phenomenon materializes locally through increased temperatures, more severe droughts and water scarcity, changing raining patterns, etc. In addition, non-compliance and lack of monitoring and reporting on air pollution levels by the power plants affects air quality, hence the communities’ right to health.

Illegal waste dumping in urban and rural areas is another major challenge.

Addressing environmental problems is not just a matter of sustainability. It is key to the realisation of human rights and dignity. We need to practically reconcile just and inclusive development and socio-economic upliftment.

The Waterberg Region is rich in natural resources that must be preserved. Alternative economic sectors such as ecotourism should be an important part of the area’s development strategy.

Through this project, WEJF seeks to empower local organisations and Waterberg communities to protect their environment for improved living conditions, and to engage decision-makers.

Objectives

  • Uphold the environmental and human rights of communities both directly and indirectly affected by climate change in Waterberg Area.
  • Increase the understanding of climate change drivers and impacts by Waterberg community members.
  • Enhance the meaningful and inclusive participation of Waterberg community members in decision-making processes concerning their environment and rights, in particular legislative development and oversight by the Legislature (Limpopo Provincial Legislature and Parliament).

Activities (April 2019 – March 2020)

  • Stakeholder identification: contacting and introducing the project to stakeholders that will be involved and/or engaged through the project.
  • Workshops with the communities of Marapong township, Leseding informal settlements, Mapela village, Modimolle, Thabazimbi.
    The workshops will cover the following topics: public participation; identification of the environmental issues to be researched; development of an engagement strategy.
  • Research on environmental and health impacts of (coal) mining and coal-fired power plants in the target areas. E.g. impacts of air pollution from chimney smoke and blasting dust. The exact scope of the research will be informed by the workshops. The objective is to gather information and evidence on cases of environmental degradation in the area, the impacts on local communities, actions needed to address them in light of applicable legislation / policies.
    The research report will be submitted to the relevant legislative committees, and will support engagement on the issues identified.
  • Engagement with the Legislature and other targeted stakeholders (includes follow up visits to targeted areas to report on research and roll out the engagement strategy; putting together submissions/ petitions, attending hearings, contacting MPLs, etc).
  • Information sharing with local media, to foster broader dissemination of information to the communities.

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Waterberg Environmental Justice Forum (WEJF) is a non-profit organisation established in 2008 to address environmental challenges and injustices affecting the health and wellbeing of communities in the Waterberg District, Limpopo.
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Disclaimer: This web page was created with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the African Climate Reality Project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
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