What does it mean to invest in our planet? This is the question posed to us on Earth Day this year. This year the theme of investing in our planet has multiple parts to it. Building healthy cities, countries, and economies is one of Earth Day’s main focus areas. We took the time to see how what we do at The Umvoto Foundation (TUF) aligns with some of these focus areas.
Women and the green economy
Earth Day believes in the advancement of women in the green economy. They highlight the important role that women can play in influencing the climate change debate and how women in leadership positions in communities make significant differences. This can be seen nowhere more clearly than by the Indawo, Injongo, Abuntu e Khayelitsha project, which has various initiatives that also support Earth Day’s focus. This women-led initiative has had a positive impact in their community.
Firstly, the Indawo, Injongo, Abuntu e Khayelitsha project was initiated by the project leader Busiswa Nomyayi in response to the increasing amount of waste on the streets. Earth Day believes that removing trash from neighbourhoods and other areas improve habitats and prevent harm to humans and animals. Busiswa and her team share this sentiment, collecting waste every Saturday during community clean ups. They are in the process of learning how best to recycle this waste. Along with this comes the beautification of this area, where we have supported them in painting a mural, building benches and sourced plants for them to plant along the pavements. Added to these projects by Busiswa’s initiative, once a month they set up a secondhand stall to make additional income to fund these projects. This also supports Earth Day’s sustainable fashion initiative.
Climate literacy and citizen science
Earth Day recognises that environmental and climate literacy is critical in developing a society that consists of engaged environmental stewards. They believe that by engaging with learners at schools it is possible to offer them effective environmental education. Added to this, Earth Day promotes the education of people of all ages to be involved in environmental education, with education being one of our pillars here at TUF. We have been involved with education at schools through the Moretele Water Stokvel project as well as our efforts at Chuma Primary School which we hope will grow in the future. Added to this we have been involved in educating workers from the Expanded Public Works Programme as they do water sampling in the Lotus River. Finally, our geotrail series is a hiking series which aims to offer a historical, geological, hydrogeological and climatological account of areas that have significance to engineered water supply in the South Africa, with hopes to expand to other regions of southern Africa. An eventual goal is to broaden this network of trails and train local guides to promote employment and awareness about the earth’s water resources.
Investing in our planet in these ways ensures that the projects we do to improve the lives of our fellow South Africans are sustainable and effective. All of these projects mentioned are still under way, so watch this space to see how these come along!