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Environmental awareness is taught using various means to schoolchildren and community members by Pikitup and its environmental forum partners.
PIKITUP is making steady progress in changing mindsets and attitudes towards the environment.

 

Handing out leafletsHanding out leafletsIt is doing this through several educational programmes, according to Smith Radingwana, the utility’s manager for environmental educational awareness and community development. The aim is to stop the environmental degradation of the city.
 

Programmes include distributing information-filled posters and pamphlets, publishing media releases, holding exhibitions and interacting with clients.

“The need for education is driven by the fact that there is a high incidence of abuse of the environment within the community, stemming largely from inappropriate management of the various waste streams,” says Radingwana.

This abuse manifests in littering, illegal dumping, overloading of bins and degradation of open spaces. Radingwana explains that inappropriate waste management often arises from a lack of knowledge of what services are available or how to use these services correctly.

And the impact of this is greater than simply an unslightly landscape. “Poor urban environments have caused a health crisis in townships and informal settlements.”

To date, millions of rand have been spent on refuse collection from the streets, pavements and neglected open spaces.

Environmental forums
Radingwana points out that Pikitup works with environmental forums and ward committees to promote environmental awareness in schools and communities. “We have different environmental forums in different areas that go into schools to educate pupils on the environment.”

 

Separating waste at sourceSeparating waste at sourceThese forums are important mouth pieces for Pikitup, he adds. “We rely heavily on partnerships to carry out educational awareness.”
 

For example, an environmental forum in Soweto held a workshop for hawkers in Orlando East recently to raise awareness. “As a result of the workshop, the hawkers have become more responsible and keep their spaces clean to attract customers.”

Pikitup also helps groups and clubs by conducting workshops and doing presentations on sound waste management practices, recycling and resource recovery. Radingwana notes that the workshops and campaigns have resulted in communities showing an interest in maintaining their environment and establishing their own waste management companies.

“They now see maintaining the environment as an opportunity to earn money that will bring food to their tables.”

Knock and Drop
With the Knock and Drop campaign, Radingwana says Pikitup relies largely on facilitators who live in different communities around the city. They visit from house to house interacting with the residents on environmental issues.

The facilitators often leave behind pamphlets dealing with issues specific to that community, information about the waste management depot and the local government department serving the community.

“This process creates a high level of awareness, as residents identify individual practices that are not acceptable,” says Radingwana.

Edutainment
For schools, the utility uses edutainment and presentations to bring children on board. The edutainment takes the form of industrial plays, with emphasis on environmental challenges, consequences and steps to be taken to prevent the degradation of the environment.

 

Pikitup is fighting illegal dumpingPikitup is fighting illegal dumping“The road shows are often informative about the services that Pikitup provides in the city and people often find it easy to relate to the plays,” Radingwana explains.
 

They are 10 minutes long and focus on waste management, climate change and HIV/Aids.

Pikitup also encourages learners to care for their environment by hosting competitions and award ceremonies to recognise and entrench environmental and waste by-laws messages.

In 2010, it awarded about R270 000 to 18 environmental forums and 12 schools for maintaining the environment.

The future
Plans include encouraging schools to introduce environment as a subject in their curricula, Radingwana notes. “Many schools do not offer academic courses in environmental education to their students.”

The utility also plans to work with the Joburg metro police department, environmental health officers and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that environmental and waste by-laws are enforced and that tariff evasion is kept to a minimum.

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