Community affairs focuses on issues that have a direct impact on the community’s health and safety, including issues on municipal level. This is done through a network of AfriForum branches across South Africa – by people, for people.
Everyone has the right to a healthy environment that promotes good health. It is unfortunately true that political circumstances may deprive people of their environmental rights. It was for this reason that AfriForum’s Environmental Affairs division was established: To bring about and promote environmental health and the sustainability thereof within the framework of environmental and water legislation.
The division especially utilises its branches’ environmental affairs portfolios to create a national environmental and water monitoring function by acting as watchdog by identifying violations and holding the applicable regulator responsible for effective water and environmental management. The division also focuses on creating a strong do-it-yourself ability in branches, to help maintain water infrastructure, clean up landfill sites and repair sewage infrastructure where possible and in cooperation with local municipalities. It is in the branch’s interest to create a sustainable future for its descendants by driving environmentally-related actions.
Environmental Affairs’ activities can be divided between projects, campaigns and petitions.
Environmental Affairs is involved in various projects and initiatives, of which the following are most important:
Blue and green drop project
This project focuses on the quality of drinking and sewage water, and ensures that municipalities’ water quality complies with minimum legal requirements. In this way, Environmental Affairs has already ensured that at least 7 million people have access to clean drinking water.
Landfill site audit
This audit measures the compliance of municipal landfill sites to legislation at the hand of a number of questions based on the minimum legal requirements for landfill sites.
Although South Africa celebrates National Arbour Week, Environmental Affairs extended this to a month in a bid to create awareness for this indispensable resource.
This project helps the community to identify an area in their towns to target and clean up themselves by removing waste and pruning trees and shrubs, while also taking all the refuse to a landfill site.
AfriForum helps drought-stricken communities by establishing waterpoints where water is made available, for example recently in Cape Town.
Mine water licence audit
This audit determines whether the Department of Environmental Affairs manages the mining industry’s water usage effectively in terms of licence requirements, as well as how many mines are operating without these licences.
The project focuses on recycling at branch level and includes the recycling of paper, bottles, cans, printer ink cartridges, carton, batteries and even furniture. By launching a recycling project, the branch can have a very positive impact on the environment and – if managed correctly – even generate an income for the branch.
This project focuses on national parks and nature reserves in local communities, as well as participation in arbour month. The aim is to create a do-it-yourself ability to maintain local conservancies and establish input on sustainable development.
This project will inform members of endangered fauna and flora species, especially in case of any red data species and endangered or sensitive ecosystems.
Campaigns and petitions
It is sometimes necessary to launch petitions to make Government aware of specific issues and pressurise them into addressing demands. In other cases, campaigns are launched to restore natural fauna and flora after natural disasters, such as the destructive Knysna fires. AfriForum is involved in the following petitions and campaigns: