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INqaba yeGolide, IWR and Catchment Research Group scoop Environmental Awards

Date Released: Wed, 9 October 2013 13:59 +0200

Rhodes University’s Institute for Water Research (IWR) Incorporating the Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality (UCEWQ), the Catchment Research Group (CRG) and the Makana community group iNqaba yeGolide are all 2013 Rhodes University Environmental Awards recipients.

The IWR won in the category for a Rhodes University Department, Institute or Section (within a Division), the CRG won in the category for Rhodes University Society or Residence, and iNqaba yeGolide won in the Makana Community-based Project category. This is the first time this category was included in the awards.

On presenting the award to the IWR, Mr Mark Hazell, Manager of Grounds and Gardens, said that Rhodes University recognises that South Africa is facing a water crisis and there is an urgent need to proactively and adaptively manage South Africa’s water resources.

Informed by a transdisciplinary, integrative, adaptive, community partnership approach to water management research, UCEWQ’s New Paradigm project incorporates a view of human beings in catchments comprising complex social ecological systems.

Through their New Paradigm water project, the UCEWQ is promoting on-the-ground water resource protection, better integration of use and management, and improved social and ecological water justice, through constructive co-management and service delivery of water.

“They use appropriate, complexity- and systems-based approaches and methods in their work, with the aim of capturing such experiences and making practical approaches to complex water problems widely available, in an accessible manner,” said Mr Hazell,

The project involves a variety of other stakeholders, the main one being Makana Local Municipality, and others including Khulumani Support Group, Galela Amanzi, Kowie Catchment Campaign, as well as research groups such as the Institute for Environmental Biotechnology Rhodes University (EBRU), Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) and the Catchment Research Group (CRG) among others.

The IWR is involved in several ongoing projects, including the Eastern Cape Water and Local Government Case Study, the Crocodile River in the Inkomati Catchment (funded by NRF/ THRIP and industries that depend on the catchment), and the Olifants River Catchment – Mpumalanga-Limpopo (funded by USAID).

The CRG was established as an informal group of postgraduate researchers in the early 2000s, its aim to make a significant contribution to sustainable management of the water environment. Since 2011, the group’s profile has increased significantly with student-driven outreach activities.

 Focusing on raising awareness and mobilising action amongst all water interest groups in and around Grahamstown, the CRG runs various outreach activities and Water Circle Seminars, with guest presentations from students, researchers, professionals and practitioners in the water sector. A number of South African and international speakers have been included in their programme.

Safety Health & Environmental Officer, Ms Nikki Kohly who presented the award to the CRG said that the continuity of action over the last three years by this group demonstrated the sustained nature of their mission to promote interdisciplinary engagement around water issues within Rhodes University and the wider community. “The students who promote these activities clearly lead by example” she said. 

INqaba yeGolide, a registered cooperative since 2011, specialises in environmental projects such as neighbourhood cleaning, greening and composting.

Their innovation in composting in backyard vegetable gardens has attracted local and regional media attention, and their activities have also been acknowledged by the Director-General from the Ministry of Environmental Affairs.

Dr James Gambiza presented their award, describing the five unemployed members as having an enterprising attitude and persevering in seeking new opportunities to enhance their skills.

The group has established a collaborative relationship with the Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at Rhodes University, participating in training programmes and attending a short course on nursery management at the University of Fort Hare.

Their efforts have been recognised by Makana Municipality’s Agriculture and Environmental Management offices, which formalised a working relationship with them by enlisting them as Community Environmental Facilitators.

Together with 25 other unemployed local youth, the group participate in the implementation of the municipal environmental education and training strategy and are instrumental in mobilising local communities towards a concerted effort to keep their wards clean, healthy and aesthetically pleasing. The project is now supported by the Expanded Public Works Programme.

The criteria for the awards included: operational protocols and/or practices that promote human and ecological health or ‘living communities’; collaborative and cohesive efforts which strengthen and build community relationships; leading by example; evidence that these activities have been in place for 18 months or longer; and evidence that strategies or measures are in place to ensure continuity of these activities.

By Sarah-Jane Bradfield

Photo By Stephen Penney

Source:Communications Division