Photo caption: Sebenza Nathi graduates.
Eleven graduates now have a bright future after graduating from the Sebenza Nathi Project. The project, headed by the Gauteng region Department of Water Affairs and the Gauteng based Rand Water Foundation, is aimed at fighting unemployment by developing skills amongst the youth.
Called Sebenza Nathi (isiZulu for Work with Us), the project has helped to close the skills shortage in fi municipalities. In addition, it has helped with the hiring of qualified engineering, water and science graduates who have been placed on long-term internship programmes within these municipalities. The purpose of the project is to alleviate capacity skills constraints in the water services divisions of municipalities, especially in the area of water and wastewater treatment plants. It works by identifying, recruiting, developing and employing young unemployed graduates directly to groom them as new technicians. This will also strengthen the municipalities’ skills base.
The Sebenza Nathi project is managed in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Water Affairs and Environment. The project helps train process controllers from nine municipalities to operate and maintain water and wastewater treatment plants. The Vaal University of Technology provided specialised training to the interns who already have qualifications in different water, science and engineering fields.
The project was piloted in five local mu- nicipalities in Gauteng: Merafong, Lesedi, Midvaal, eMfuleni and Randfontein. The graduates participated for 12 months and the Rand Water Foundation made avail- able R1,8 million in funding. The money covered monthly allowances paid to the interns, handbooks, protective clothing worn during training and study fees to the Vaal University of Technology to train the interns on waste water works management.
The graduates were placed at the waste-water treatment plants of participating municipalities. After the initial graduation ceremony, three of the graduates were employed by the Lesedi local municipality. For 24-year-old Lindiwe Nhlapo, an analytical chemistry graduate from the Vaal University of Technology, the project was definitely worth her while.
“It was extremely informative yet challenging and I think the Sebenza Nathi Project is critical to municipalities that don’t have the skills and understanding of what wastewater management entails.”
Lindiwe said the training she received was extremely interesting and she got to see a world within municipality water management that was a foreign concept to her.
According to the Water Affairs Department’s Thami Mnguni, the Sebenza Nathi project forms part of a broader community empowerment programme in the department. The total budget for the Community Empowerment Programme in Gauteng is R400 million, Mnguni said.
Community empowerment includes:
• The War on Leaks Programme, which addresses water losses resulting from leaks. About R100 million has been made available for the project.
• A skills development programme which received R80 million, provides training in water-related fields.
• Adopt a River, a community-based environment initiative targeting women and youth to clean rivers in their communities.
The Department of Water Affairs works with other partners including local municipalities, provincial governments, Rand Water Foundation, Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) and non-governmental organisations in carrying out these community programmes.
For more information, call the Department of Water Affairs on: 012 336 8387 or Rand Water Foundation on: 011 682 0911