A decade ago water saving in SA did not have the sense of urgency or media profile that it has today. Grandparents did not have to make the choice of the most water-efficient toilets. "It must be remembered that water is part of a deeply interconnected system. This means what we pour on the ground ends up in our water, and what we spew into the sky ends up in our water," says Amukelani Nkuna, environmental interpretation education officer of the Kruger National Park (KNP). The People and Conservation team of Berg en Dal in the Kruger National Park celebrated National Water Week on the 19th March 2008.
The celebration was done at Tonga View Primary School, Tonga, close to Malelane in the Mpumalanga province. 12 schools from the local communities were invited to join in the celebration. The schools that participated in this annual event were: Tonga View Primary, Masibonisane Primary, Ekuphumuleni Primary, Mahlatsi High, Skhwahlane Secondary, Mbhunu High, Mdzili secondary, Luthango Primary, Kwa-Jelusa Primary, Inkomazi High, Mhlaba Combined, and Lovunywa High.
Learners got to know more about the importance of water, the water cycle, and things that affect the natural environment. After a brief presentation by Tshegofatso Raborifi, the children were divided into smaller groups and taken to the exhibition manned by Lucia Mashego and Richard Mhlongo. The learners were entertained with different water games by John Mahlaola, Boitumelo Rampeng, and Amukelani Nkuna. The games were constructed in a way that illustrated the interaction between different organisms and water.
Educators and learners were also encouraged to save water at their respective schools, and how to continue to create water awareness and action in and out of the classroom. They were also encouraged to choose plants that thrive in little water when making gardens at schools and at home. The department of water affairs and forestry (Dwaf) officials handed out water bottles to learners after a clean up activity around the school yard.
"In spite of modern technology and as a result of public lethargy, the ever-increasing droughts, and our expanding cities and population, we have gradually outgrown our regional water supplies, treatment and distribution capacities. Given this scenario of diminishing water resources, water restrictions should no longer be voluntary, but mandatory."
Amukelani adds that it is crucial to become a water conservation-orientated society now, through a lifestyle of water conservation and not by legislation. Certainly, water conservation will not make the impending water crisis disappear, but it will help to ease the impact and make it more manageable.
"Water conservation, while we have the option is not difficult and if ‘we all save a little; together we can save a lot'. By depleting and polluting rivers, lakes and wetlands, we are destroying ecosystems that play an essential role in filtering and assuring freshwater resources." Amukelani thanked Hasani Makhubele and Hannes De Lange from Dwaf for their assistance on the day. "I will also thank all the schools that participated in the event. Lastly I will thank the Berg en Dal team for all the effort they put together in making the event a memorable one."
By Amukelani Nkuna