Kouga Wind Farm ushered in Global Wind Day on Friday by announcing that the R4-million custom-built library and IT centre that it is building for the Sea Vista community outside St Francis Bay is on track to open in October. Celebrating the announcement are community members (from left) Babalwa Sahluko, Nozuko Ntshota and Ragel Goeda, who themselves have benefited from another of the wind farm’s community projects – the Rainmakers women empowerment programme. The seven-month programme has seen groups of women from the Sea Vista, Umzamowethu, KwaNomzamo and Kruisfontein communities undergoing specific skills development and business training, to equip them to identify and implement impactful upliftment projects in their communities. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
DROUGHT-hit farmers in the Gamtoos River Valley have had their already stringent water allocations from the Kouga Dam – the largest in the region – halved for the 2018/19 water year, it was announced late on Thursday. With Kouga Dam at only 7.7% capacity on Friday, this means that farmers will now be forced to operate on 20% of what would be their full irrigation quota for the new water year, which starts in July. This is set to have a significant impact on fruit and vegetable production in the valley, as farmers will not be planting “cash crops” and will be forced to leave older, less productive citrus orchards to die off. The little water they have will be dedicated to the preservation of younger, premium orchards, according to valley farmer and Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB) chairman Tertius Meyer. This follows Thursday’s annual meeting between officials from the national and provincial departments of water and sanitation, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and GIB, which manages the dam. Meyer said the greater part of Kouga Dam’s water supply was given to sustaining agriculture in the valley, with the remainder forming a critical part of Nelson Mandela Bay’s water supply. There had been mixed reaction to the news from local farmers, whose allocation for the current water year had already been restricted to 40% of their normal consumption, Meyer said. Many, he said, had in fact been expecting more drastic measures to be introduced. GIB financial and human resources manager Rienette Colesky said the department had done its best to balance the needs of farmers with creating a sustainable supply to the surrounding towns and cities. “Curtailing water use is vital to prevent dam failure at this stage,” she said. Unlike many dams, Kouga is built in such a way that the outlet is low enough to prevent “dead storage” and can be used up to the 0% level, Colesky said. The last time the dam was at full capacity and overflowing was in December . . .
As the second most polluted continent, Africa must take both the responsibility and opportunity to pioneer world-leading waste management methods to avoid an environmental and socio-economic disaster, experts warn. This was the message from environmental scientist Dr Tony Ribbink, who was speaking at the annual general meeting of the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Thursday (June 7). Ribbink, chief executive officer of the Sustainable Seas Trust, believes that while there is a certain amount of gloom and doom surrounding the pollution problem, a lot of good is also being done*. “As the second most polluted continent, Africa is in clear danger of taking top spot unless responsibility for the crisis is shouldered at all levels,” said Ribbink, a former director of the World Bank GEF project on Lake Malawi/Nyasa for Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. But, he said, Africa was also pioneering new methods and activities to counter plastic pollution. “Industry is also becoming more committed to sustainability and finding solutions where previously there appeared to be none.” South African bottlers, who are voluntary members of PETCO, are increasingly assisting with the drive to improve recycling rates. Annual PET plastic bottle recycling increased to 65% of all bottles produced in the country in 2017 – up from 55% in 2016, according to recently released figures. This equates to 2.15 billion bottles recycled in 2017, which created 64 000 income-generating opportunities for recyclers and waste collectors participating in what is termed the “circular economy”, while also freeing up 578 000m3 of dwindling landfill space, PETCO announced in May. PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz said these figures put South African PET recycling on par with global standards and that the organisation had set an ambitious recycling target of 70% by 2020. Even more significant, said Scholtz, was that approximately 96% of all PET bottles recovered in . . .
The South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) has announced the appointment of Soraya Artman to steer its operational side, as it seeks to strengthen partnerships within the South African maritime sector and beyond. Previously the senior manager of finance for the Nelson Mandela University Business School, Artman brings a wealth of experience in finance and corporate governance within a research-driven organisation to her new role as director of operations. “One of SAIMI’s overarching aims is to be a national institute which is recognised nationally and internationally. To achieve this, we need to partner with all universities, colleges and private training providers who have an interest in maritime affairs,” Artman said. “This will help South Africa pursue its national interest in growing maritime economic participation. We also need to grow and enhance SAIMI’s education and training portfolio and services to the maritime industry.” Headquartered in Port Elizabeth, SAIMI was established through funding support from the National Skills Fund, to coordinate the development and implementation of a national skills development plan for the maritime sector. It also provides a link between industry and training and academic institutions to ensure that education and training programmes meet the needs of the maritime sector. Artman said her role would be to implement and improve processes to ensure efficient operations within SAIMI to facilitate its founding purpose. “The goal is to ensure that SAIMI remains both visible and accessible. As such we will be reaching out to all stakeholders with whom SAIMI could have mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships,” she said. “I envision SAIMI as an institute that supports a world-class culture of business growth and responsiveness to the market, which promotes learning, that is at the forefront of knowledge generation in the sector and that provides an environment for employee growth, . . .
Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern described last week’s landmark agreement between the organisation and the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works as a victory for rural road users in the province. In a letter to Eastern Cape farmers, Stern said the agreement, which was endorsed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, will see Agri EC becoming a formal contributor to the annual provincial budgetary process on roads. “Being granted this facility is highly unusual,” said Stern. “It means that we will be able to make representation and assist in identifying which rural roads require the most urgent attention.” Going forward, he said it was agreed that the organisation would now meet with the Department of Transport’s roads division on a quarterly basis to discuss maintenance programmes on the roads affecting rural farming communities. Stern said a sum of R15 million had been earmarked for urgent road repairs within the next six months. “Should the department run out of money and not be able to allocate the agreed budget, the agreement provides that they must approach both the national and provincial Treasury and all other stakeholders they consider necessary to fulfil their undertaking.” It was also agreed that there would be ongoing judicial supervision by the High Court in Grahamstown of progress made on road repairs and maintenance by the Department of Roads, he said. “The Court has ordered that all costs relating to this case are carried by the Department, which, in my opinion, is significant and constitutes a victory for both our members and rural road users in the Eastern Cape,” said Stern. He said the agreement did not provide for compensation for individual farmers who had undertaken rural road maintenance at their own cost. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
A record 2.15 billion plastic bottles, weighing in at 93 235 tonnes, were recycled by the South African PET plastic industry in 2017 – saving 578 000m3 of landfill and creating 64 000 income-generating opportunities in the process. This is according to national industry body PETCO, which is responsible for fulfilling the sector’s mandate of extended producer responsibility (EPR). The figures equate to a post-consumer bottle recycling rate of 65%, representing a 3% year-on-year increase in tonnage despite tough trading conditions and a 13% fall in the total PET market, which was affected by economic volatility and industrial strike action in 2017. PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said the organisation was thrilled with the latest figures, which puts South Africa on par with international recycling rates. “Our partnerships with industry players, who demonstrate a keen and genuine commitment to recycling, is what makes results like these possible,” said Scholtz. “Through the remarkable network of people, companies and organisations we work with, 5.9 million PET bottles were collected for recycling across South Africa every day during the course of 2017, creating thousands of income-generating opportunities for small and micro-collectors, and changing their lives and those of their families in immeasurable ways.” Scholtz said PETCO members paid a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased, which funds their efforts and supports a sustainable recycling industry. Since the organisation’s incorporation in 2004, a total of R2.3 billion has been paid by contracted recyclers to collectors for baled bottles, with a total of 609 306 tonnes of PET recycled to date. This has saved more than 900 000 tonnes of carbon and almost four million cubic metres of landfill space. Nokubonga Mnyango, who owns Uthando Solutions and Trading in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the many PET collectors who have contributed to these . . .
This statement is issued on behalf of Agri Eastern Cape by the portfolio committee member for rural safety, Alfonso van Niekerk: Agri Eastern Cape condemns the attack on the Ngcobo police station, and subsequent murders of five SAPS officers and one soldier, in the strongest possible terms. As an organisation, Agri Eastern Cape has a close working relationship with rural police stations throughout the province and we are deeply saddened by the senseless killing of these officers. We extend our heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones. This cold-blooded and cowardly crime is not merely an isolated incident. Its effect on rural policing in the Eastern Cape has far-reaching consequences and puts the safety of SAPS personnel, the entire rural community and farming families at risk. We would urge the Honorable Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to appoint task teams to investigate the murders. The culprits must be apprehended and charged, and the judiciary must impose maximum sentences to send a clear message that attacks on those who would protect their fellow South Africans will not be tolerated. Agri Eastern Cape and its members will assist the SAPS in any way possible with their investigations and we call on members of the public who may have any information pertaining to the case to contact the relevant authorities or phone SAPS Crime Stop on 086 00 10111. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
(HOWICK) – DESPITE a lagging economy, swimmers at South Africa’s premier open water championship, the aQuellé Midmar Mile, have smashed an ambitious target of raising R3-million for charities nationwide, fundraisers announced on Monday [12 February]. Drawing amateur and serious athletes of all ages, this past weekend’s event saw many swimmers raise funds for causes ranging from cancer to water awareness as Day Zero draws closer in the Western Cape. As of Monday morning, charity organisers announced that more than R3.1m had been raised – a staggering 55% increase on the R2m raised in 2017. And more is expected to flow in in the coming weeks, they say. “Not all EFT’s made over the weekend have come in yet. We’ll also keep fundraising open for a few more weeks to give people a chance to hit their targets. But it’s an impressive number regardless,” said Stan Kozlowski, chairman of the main fundraising initiative, the 8 Mile Club. “I’d imagine by the end of this week the 8 Mile Club alone will have surpassed the R3-million mark. We're currently sitting on R2.98m raised, with the 16 Mile Club having raised R113,000”. Over 13,000 swimmers from across the country descended on Midmar Dam near Pietermaritzburg for the 45th edition of South Africa’s premier open water race. Among them were the 200-plus members of the 8 Mile and 16 Mile clubs. Suzelle Stegen, marketing manager for aQuellé, said the water brand was proud to support such great initiatives. “Helping the community is a key element of our brand. We love the fact that families, clubs and corporate teams can come together and take part in a healthy, water-based activity that spreads the joy and does so much good for many worthy causes,” said Stegen. The 8-Milers – so called for the distance each member swims for charity – each swam the eight-mile-long events on Saturday and Sunday to collect as much money as possible for their seven chosen charities. These included breast cancer charity Pink . . .
(HOWICK) – Participants in this year’s aQuellé Midmar Mile will have their sights set on a fundraising target of R3 million for charity when they hit the water for the world’s largest open water swim this weekend. Over 13,000 swimmers from across the country are expected to descend on Midmar Dam near Pietermaritzburg for the 45th edition of South Africa’s premier open water race. Among them will be the 200-plus members of the 8 Mile and 16 Mile Clubs, who have already surpassed last year’s R2-million benchmark for worthy causes in the lead-up to race day. The 8-Milers – so called for the distance each member swims for charity – will swim each of the eight mile-long events on Saturday and Sunday to collect as much money as possible for their seven chosen charities. These are breast cancer charity Pink Drive, Singakwenza Education and Health, Childhood Cancer Foundation (CHOC), Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, KZN Wildlife for Save the Rhino, Wildlands Conservation Trust and the Cancer Association of South Africa. Former East Coast Radio DJ Brad Ray, 40, now living in Johannesburg, will be completing his fifth 8-Mile challenge. He and his sister, Abigail Ray, will be swimming on behalf of Singakwenza, a non-profit organisation that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged children through early childhood education programmes. “I knew the bigger charities would have support already, and the smaller charities probably need the money more. I am a huge believer in education having the power to change people’s lives for the better, and what Singakwenza does for young children is amazing,” said Ray. Joining the 8-Milers is former Paralympic silver medallist Terence Parkin, who is on a 902km cycle-swim-run journey to raise funds for the Deaf Children’s Learn to Swim and Water Safety Programme. Their 16 Mile Club counterparts will also complete all the events, swimming back to the start after each one to double the distance. All monies raised by . . .
(PATENSIE) – Residents in the Gamtoos River Valley are bracing for a health crisis of unprecedented proportions as – for the first time in its history – the region’s biggest supply dam is set to run dry by the end of April. Should no decent rains fall in the catchment area in the coming weeks, the towns of Hankey and Patensie will be plunged into a health disaster, as most of their water is sourced from the Kouga Dam which dipped to an all-time low of 7.15% last week. Rain over the weekend has seen the dam level rise to 9.3%, with further inflows expected to bring it up to 10%. This puts the area, which falls under the Kouga Municipality, at similar risk to water-strapped Cape Town, where major dams are set to run dry – a circumstance termed “Day Zero” – in mid-April. “When the dam dries up, there will be no water for drinking, no water for personal hygiene and no water to flush toilets. We are sitting with the reality of an epic health crisis,” said Gamtoos Irrigation Board chairman Tertius Meyer, who added that while recent rains had taken the dam level up to almost 8%, the situation remained extremely serious. Meyer said that at this critical stage even boreholes were not a viable solution to the crisis. “Those who do have boreholes must use what water they have wisely to make it stretch as far as possible,” he said. “Kouga Municipality also needs to manage what little water it has as conservatively as possible, although this has not been the case in the past. “Nothing can save these communities – only substantial rain.” While more affluent households may be able to keep the crisis somewhat at bay by purchasing drinking water shipped in from other areas, poorer communities in the two towns – which share an estimated population of 300 000 – cannot afford to buy bottled water. “The only thing the municipality can do is to bring in water in tankers, but this is prohibitively expensive, costing an estimated R1-million a month,” said . . .