Polluted water causes skin diseases in children
HIGHLY polluted rivers are not only killing our rivers but also causing dangerous skin diseases in children.
This view is expressed by Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Rejoice Mabudhafasi.
She was speaking while cleaning up the banks of the Isipingo River in Umlazi on Friday, where she ended her three-day Public Participation Programme road show in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.
The clean-up formed part of the launch of the department's R1,7million Isipingo Adopt-A-River project.
"Polluted rivers are dangerous, especially for children that unwittingly play in them," Mabudhafasi said.
"We found that many children were getting various skin diseases and this is one of the things that prompted us to ensure that this project was launched.
"Another problem, which we think has contributed to rivers being so polluted, is the illegal connection of water sewage by people living in the informal settlements. When they flush their toilets all the sewerage goes into the river. "
The river cleaning project has a dual effect according to Mabudhafasi.
"We are helping to keep our rivers clean and providing a livelihood for a group of women we have employed to keep the river clean.
"We found back in 2008 that this group of 90 women were cleaning the river on their own. We decided to engage them and now pay them a stipend of R70 a day for three days a week.
"In this way we are empowering the women during this important Women's Month as well as keeping the river clean. We want to increase the number of women to 100 soon."
Mabudhafasi said the women in the community had also planted vegetables next to the river to discourage people from throwing dirty waste into the water.
She said her department was working with the department of human settlements, the health department and the local government in educating people in informal settlements.
She said the project that kick started in Limpopo last week would be spread across the country where they would visit different areas to educate people on the importance of clean rivers.