Taking back our rivers

2016-10-25 06:00
 Photo: supplied The Aller River in the Upper Highway area will be part of the Take Back Our River Project.

Photo: supplied The Aller River in the Upper Highway area will be part of the Take Back Our River Project.

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TAKE Back Our Rivers (TBOR) is a flagship project of the eThekwini Conservancies Forum that seeks to restore the health of rivers across eThekwini Municipality, through hands-on river assessments, rehabilitation interventions and various restoration strategies including clearing of invasive alien species and mobilising the communities.

The approach that this initiative takes is partnership-based, practical and action orientated, with a particular focus on engaging communities from various economic backgrounds with the intention of encouraging these communities to take responsibility for the health of the stretch of river that they live on and/or use.

One of TBOR’s sub-projects, the Aller River Pilot Project, designed by the eThekwini Conservancies Forum, with the Kloof Conservancy as the implementing agency, has recently received R600 000 from the eThekwini Municipality as part of its commitment to climate change mitigation and responsible natural resource management.

This pilot project got off the ground in June and is scheduled to run until the end of March 2017.

The aim of the pilot project is to test the methodology upon which the TBOR is built, particularly that aspect concerned with building capacity and custodianship amongst “river communities”, as this will ultimately support the sustainability of the intervention.

Speaking to the Fever Paolo Candotti, Kloof Conservancy chairman said: “The wider TBOR initiative is seen as an integral part of the international 100 Resilient Cities Programme of which eThekwini is a part.

“This programme aims to help cities around the world become more resilient to the impact of accelerating physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century, primarily driven by climate change.

“I am pleased to announce that the eThekwini Conservancies Forum will be collaborating with a team of researchers from Education and Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge to extend and enhance the community engagement element of our work on the Aller River.

“Further funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK will enable us to both consolidate the work we are doing here in eThekwini and create links and partnerships with other water-based communities in the Norfolk Broads in East Anglia in the UK,” said Paolo.

He added that the eThekwini Conservancies Forum sees strong potential for enhancing the impact of its own efforts as a result of working with the outcomes of the research from the AHRC Pathways to Understanding the Changing Climate Project managed by the team from Education and Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

“We also hope that the work on the Aller River and the bigger TBOR project will contribute to the development of knowledge surrounding Global Goals for Sustainable Development through this collaboration. In this way our important work with local communities may eventually benefit other communities around the world facing similar challenges.

“On behalf of the eThekwini Conservancies Forum I would like thank Dr Elsa Lee and Dr David Whitley of the Faculty of Education, and Dr David Sneath from the Division of Social Anthropology for their commitment and support, and for being willing to embark with us on this exciting partnership-based initiative,” Paolo said.

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