Article source HeraldLIVE
The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) aims to reclaim 1.5-billion litres of water a year over the next decade — and drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay is among the beneficiaries.
The initiative aims to help Africa achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access and will be funding five major projects across SA to do so.
These projects include Umzimvubu Watershed Restoration, Matatiele, serving East London, the Algoa Water Fund, Diep River, in Nelson Mandela Bay, Wemmershoek Dam, Wolseley Wetlands Restoration and the Soutpansberg mountains in Limpopo.
The five projects received $1.25m (about R19m) in grants from the Coca-Cola Foundation in 2019 and have collectively cleared 3,400 hectares of thirsty, invasive alien plant species in a project that is expected to help replenish an estimated 1.5-billion litres of water annually for the next 10 years.
Coca-Cola Foundation chair and president Beatriz Perez said: “These important water catchment areas feed our communities, towns and cities, yet thirsty alien invasive plants are consuming millions of litres of this precious resource unnecessarily from these areas each year.
“As part of our broader water stewardship programme, RAIN is helping to rehabilitate thousands of hectares of land and replenish water while economically empowering families.”
In the Bay, the project has resulted in the clearing of 260ha of alien plant species from the Impofu Dam, a key upstream catchment area for the metro, and created 21 jobs.
“As Coca-Cola, we believe that the most effective work happens when there is collaboration across the public and private sectors for the benefit of the local communities,” Perez said.
Rural development and agrarian reform MEC Nomakhosazana Meth’s spokesperson, Ayongezwa Lungisa, said the department welcomed the intervention.
“Though it is a mandate of environmental affairs, as government we engage each other around the eradication of alien species, in particular the black wattle which consumes a lot of water.”
“In the province we have many rivers where we have plans to run such programmes” he said.
“We are happy that they are doing this as this will assist us.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the metro are also in discussions regarding a landmark request for tenders that could see the launch of a mega-project to clear the Baakens Valley of alien vegetation and link it to skills and job creation.