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Cape Town's Kader Asmal project is hailed as a national success story

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Flamingoes flock to the Black River after removal of water hyacinth.

The Cape Bird Club attributes the return of the greater flamingo to the Black River to the huge success of Environmental Programmes' Kader Asmal Integrated River Catchment Project, in which 600 previously unemployed people are currently removing invasive aquatic species and pollution from over 20 rivers and wetlands in the City of Cape Town.

In a letter from the Cape Bird Club to the Mayor of Cape Town, the Chairman of the club's Conservation Committee, Dr Dave Whitelaw, expressed their sincere appreciation to Alderman Belinda Walker, the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, for the 'sterling' job that the City has done in cleaning the Black River.

“The Black River is a prominent feature of the City’s landscape, being visible from two major roads. For a number of years, there has been a gradual choking of it by water hyacinth. The City’s perseverance in removing this hyacinth is to be applauded, from which the City’s image and bird life can only benefit", said Dr Whitelaw.

The ongoing general clean-up programme for the Black River commenced in February 2012. It entailed the following:

  • Control of invasive plants
  • Removal and disposal of litter
  • Repairs to leaking sewers
  • Identification of pollution hotspots
  • Treatment of water from the Athlone Wastewater Treatment Works

The City cleaned up the Black River in partnership with Department of Environmental Affairs' Environmental Programmes: Working for Water, as part of an overall improvement project, namely the Kader Asmal Integrated River Catchment Project. This inter-departmental programme was established in honour of the late Professor Kader Asmal, under whose leadership the national Working for Water programme was founded. The project to train and manage 600 previously unemployed people to clean up to 20 rivers and wetlands in Cape Town is managed by Louise Stafford, head of the City's highly successful Invasive Species Unit.

The return of bird life to the Black River shows the success of this project, which is being used to address water issues throughout the metro. It is also part of the Mayor’s Special Job Creation Project, which focuses on helping those residents in the city who are most in need of income, while at the same time enhancing service delivery and improving the quality of our water.

“We are committed to building an inclusive and caring society, which means using all of the resources at our disposal to look after the various communities of Cape Town – and the environment in which they live. By investing in environmental sustainability projects, we are protecting this environment for future generations.

“This administration is fully aware that, to truly achieve this vision and take this city to the next level, we need partners. We know that these partners might be committed individuals, community organisations and the larger private sector. We are grateful to all those in our city who help us protect our valuable natural resources and, in so doing, protect Cape Town’s shared natural heritage,” said Alderman Walker.