College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

UKZN Students Clean Up River in Pietermaritzburg

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The Operation Songamanzi Student Organisation (OSSO) – a UKZN club based on the Pietermaritzburg campus, which deals with water conservation – held a clean-up drive along the Alexandra River while implementing Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM).

With a vision of successfully implementing IWRM in South Africa, OSSO’s co-founder and chairperson Mr Andile Mgagula said the operation provided participants with a proper understanding of the link between the clean-up and IWRM, while also highlighting the challenges most river catchment areas face. ‘Since Operation Songamanzi was established to find solutions to the water-related problems we have, being fully aware of environmental problems will help find solutions,’ said Mgagula.

Held in collaboration with the Community Development Association (CDA), the clean-up involved UKZN students and featured guest speakers Mr Sylvester Selala, who is a PhD candidate in Hydrology, an entrepreneur and an expert in IWRM; and Mr Ntando Ndlanzi, a hydrologist, UKZN alumnus and an Umngeni employee.

Selala spoke on the three principles of IWRM – social equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability, explaining the connection between a river clean-up and IWRM. Ndlanzi informed students about problems in the river catchment across Umngeni River.

Mgagula said his organisation saw the need for participants to be briefed and provided with the necessary knowledge before the clean-up got underway. ‘The information received from our guest speaker made everyone more water and environmentally conscious.’

He said the removal of litter around the river had made a huge difference to the environment.

Other planned OSSO activities include involvement in the upcoming National Water Quality Month, the World Ocean Day, and the Green Campus Campaign during which organisation members will establish a tunnel and apply water conservative methods on crops.;

‘There are other upcoming projects including rainwater harvesting, seminars and symposiums to heighten awareness about the importance of conserving the most important resource we have which is water. Those who wish to join OSSO or be part of our activities can contact us on Facebook at Operation Songamanzi Student Organisation,’ said Mgagula.

OSSO’s executive members include Mgagula, Sivuyile Phohleli, Khethiwe Mthethwa, Syanda Hadebe, Thembelihle Chiliza, Lindokuhle Nyaba, Sfundo Dubazane and Amanda Nyawose.

Mgagula thanked participants and guests for participating in the clean-up, saying there were plans to expand the organisation’s activities to other UKZN campuses and Higher Education Institutions.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Supplied