The Free State government has received a massive R221-million cash injection from the national department of water and environmental affairs to implement environmental care projects during the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period.
The announcement was made by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa during the World Environmental Day celebrations held at the Mangaung Outdoor Centre in June.
The Free State, as part of the Environmental Protection Programme, has 15 multi-year projects being implemented in the current MTEF period.
The worldwide greening projectwas established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. The conference resolved to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation.
The environmental sector Green Economy Implementation Plan this year received a boost of R800-million for the Green Fund over the next two financial years from the National Treasury’s Green Fund.
The Free State has been allocated R35-million specifically for the development of a major recreational park in Batho Township.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mamiki Qabathe, said the provincial government has started working with schools, municipalities and communities on their environmental care programmes.
“We started working with 50 schools but we have now added 130 schools to create awareness and patriotism about our environment.
Our aim is to create enviro-friendly towns. We also ensure that we eradicate illegal dumping in our province hence we have provided people with different refuse bins that they can use to dump their waste,” she said.
The department has deployed people to work in recycling centres in all municipalities in the province.
“We also want to create water-wise gardens in our communities that will benefit people at the end of the day. The department is also working with the department of human settlementsto ensure that people built houses that are energy efficient by, for an example, installing solar geysers.”
In Mangaung we are proud of our Executive Mayor, Thabo Manyoni, who ensured that solar street lights are installed in Botshabelo,”said Qabathe.
Qabathe announced that her department has also rehabilitated 15 wetlands creating work opportunities for people from vulnerable and marginalised rural communities.
This year’s World Environmental Day celebrations are observed under the international theme “Green Economy”, which refers to an economic development model based on sustainable development and knowledge of ecological economics.
The Green Economy also seeks to improve human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
Many people can become part of the Green Economy in many ways, by planting trees, taking care of the soil, as well as removing alien plants and species that absorb a lot of water.
The implementation of the greening projects identified by the government in the province will create jobs and help fight poverty because they are labour intensive.
Thousands of people will be employed to collect refuse,recycle waste, and clean rivers across the province. The provincial government intends to employ young people and women to work in these projects.