Community involvement in climate change adaptation

Community clean-up initiative

Sustainable Development Goals

Community involvement in climate change (CC) adaptation is an important tool to ensure the longevity and sustainability of incorporating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into everyday life. The Umvoto Foundation is currently involved in a community initiative that incorporates SDG 5.5 (ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life), SDG 6.3 (improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally), and SDG 11.7 (provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities).

People, Place and Purpose

In Khayelitsha Township local resident Busiswa Nomayi (Busi) has orchestrated and led community involvement that has targeted cleaning up her neighbourhood of rubbish in the streets. The clean-up project aims to revitalize the space, stop the invasion of rubbish, and create a beautiful environment (SDG 6.3). This female-led initiative works directly with the City of Cape Town’s Department of Water and Sanitation allowing a bottom-up approach to sorting out the problem (SDG 5.5). Busi believes that this work can lead to even greater change in the area, “the more people clean up, the better health and better behaviour we will see… maybe less crime and people learning to take responsibility of their own place without waiting for government or someone else to do it for them. If we can pick up in our street, less can go into our rivers and we don’t want rubbish in our ocean. I believe that together we can make a difference in our community and to our country and to the world if to take care our nature and our environment at large.”

Before and after the clean-up initiative started in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
Before (left) and after (right) the clean-up initiative started in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

Climate change adaptation

This sentiment is the first step in creating safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, which is the next step in the project. The Edith Stephens and Communitree organization will help Busi and her team to grow indigenous plants in the area and “green” the large areas by planting trees (SDG 11.7). Furthermore, illegally dumped construction rubble will be recycled into benches, permanent waste bins, and other infrastructure. The removal of pollution in the area ensures that surrounding drains and waterways are kept clear for stormwater during the heavy rainy season. This allows these to function as they were designed and ensure that flooding does not occur in the neighbourhood. As climate change causes more intense rain events, flooding will only increase in these highly populated areas, so all measures to minimise this need to be implemented. This clean-up project is a wonderful way to go about that and create a beautiful green space too.