Government is investing in programmes that fix the country’s wetlands and create jobs in the process.
The Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working for Wetlands Programme has invested R1 billion into the rehabilitation of 1 200 wetlands and created 25 000 jobs and much-needed training.
The department said that during the 2015/16 financial year alone, the programme successfully managed to rehabilitate 123 wetlands.
“In the 2015/16 financial year, Working for Wetlands generated over 220 000 person days; of which over 10 000 were training person days. A total of 3 233 jobs were created in 2015/16 with a budget allocation of R110 601 659,” the department said.
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year.
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.
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 currently experiencing.
Working for Wetlands Programme
The Working for Wetlands Programme is aimed at protecting, promoting wise-use and rehabilitating degraded wetlands all over the country.
The programme started in 2000 with a small number of rehabilitation interventions, but has grown to involve over 450 interventions each year, which include over 120 wetlands in all nine provinces.
Currently, the bulk of the allocated budget goes into the rehabilitation of degraded wetlands and in the process jobs are created and are skilled and trained.
Some of the future plans include increasing the programme’s footprint, expanding into other areas and finding simpler and cost-effective interventions.