The Department of Environmental Affairs has renewed the Gamtoos Irrigation Board’s (GIB’s) contract to continue deploying the ‘Working for Natural Resource Management’ programme across the Eastern Cape.
Under the renewed three-year contract, GIB will manage four major project categories, namely working for water, wetlands, forestry and ecosystems and work on clearing non-indigenous vegetation to maximise run-off to the province’s dams amid increasingly crippling drought conditions.
The contract, which will sustain 2 000 jobs a year throughout the Eastern Cape, renews the GIB’s fight against alien invasive plant species, which negatively affect the Eastern Cape’s supply dams by impacting on critical run-off from rains.
“It is vitally important for us to be involved in poverty alleviation, while at the same time improving flow of water into the dams, which is now more important than ever, in view of the crippling drought,” said GIB CEO Pierre Joubert.
GIB secures the services of more than 300 small, medium-sized and microenterprises each year to assist with the project’s implementation.
“Employing an average of 11 employees a team, this creates a positive economic impact for at least 3 000 additional beneficiaries and their households,” he added.
Over the past five years, GIB contractors have cleared 547 697 ha of alien invasive plants.
However, more needs to be done, with the board calling on private landowners to take a more vested interest.
“While funding for this is, in part, covered under the new contract, a lot more money is needed to have the desired impact,” said GIB financial and human resources manager Rienette Colesky, adding that the government could only subsidise “so much” and stressing that public–private partnerships were required.
“Should more [private] land owners come to the party to contribute to these costs, we would be able to clear more land, faster,” Colesky said.
The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act required landowners to keep their land free from alien invasive plants.
GIB, with a project footprint extending from Tsitsikamma in the west to Lusikisiki in the east and north to Matatiele, has been a regional service provider responsible for managing various water-related projects on behalf of national government since 1999.