Big Lotto grant for local environmental NGO

2010-05-31 00:00

THE National Lottery Board has awarded a large grant to a local environmental NGO for a three-year river cleanup programme.

The chairperson of the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct), Dave Still, said that the organisation has been granted R15,8 million over three years for a river care programme. The project will cover the Duzi and Umgeni rivers and their tributaries from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, including Howick and Mpophomeni. Duct is an NGO dedicated to the environmental health of the Msunduzi and Umgeni rivers.

“Although we signed the contract with the Lottery Board in April we did not want to make a public announcement until we had actually seen the money. The first R8 million [payment] has now been deposited in our bank account,” Still said.

The programme will directly employ up to 100 people, and indirectly help to keep another five in either full-time or part-time employment. In all, nine river care teams will be deployed, three in Pietermaritzburg, three in Durban, one in Howick and Mpophomeni, and two between Maritzburg­ and Durban, Still said.

Each team will be allocated a specific stretch of river to work on in four of Duct’s strategic areas: solid waste, faecal waste, industrial waste and invasive vegetation control. On its stretch of river each team will:

• remove and control alien invasive vegetation, both water and land plants;

• remove rubbish from river banks and the water and, where possible, prevent illegal dumping; and • regularly inspect sewer lines and stormwater discharge points, providing an early warning system for sewage spills and industrial spills.

Still said that Duct submitted its proposal to the Lottery Board in July 2009.

“It was a case of third time lucky as we have submitted proposals to the board twice before, without success. We are grateful to Francois du Toit, director of the Msunduzi Innovation and Development Initiative (Midi), who drew our attention to the call for proposals and encouraged us to put in a bold proposal. We had our first inkling that we might be in with a chance in December 2009, when the board requested more information. We want to thank all those who have believed in what we are trying to achieve and have supported us,” he said.

To help manage the programme, Duct has appointed an office manager responsible for finance, administration and human resources and moved to larger premises, at 4 Edmond Place, Camps Drift. The organisation has also advertised for a Durban-based Duct manager and nine field team supervisors.

“Getting the funding is a great opportunity, but it is just the start. The real challenge will be to ensure that we spend it well and that it makes a difference. We would like to demonstrate to our municipalities and our communities what a well-spent rand can achieve,” Still said.

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