Nelson Mandela legacy still lives through clear rivers campaign


What can be more important than our source of life, water? Ensuring that this resource is nurtured and kept consumable should be our number one priority as South African citizens. Instead we take our rivers and dams for granted on a daily bases, we dump our garbage and even hazardous substances like oil, diesel or petrol in them. 

We do all this without thinking of the consequences of our actions. In order for us to grasp the severity of our actions one needs to understand the value chain of water. Many argue that water comes from the sky and is therefore free, this is both true and false. If it rained and you had a way to collect and store the water for consumption at a later stage that would be a huge benefit to you. If you however rely on water that comes from your tap then you should consider the process it takes in order to experience the end result.

The moment a rain drop touches the ground it picks up dirt and infectious micro-organisms. The water then joins a river or stream and has to be abstracted from a dam through use of pumps. These pumps carry the water through pipes to a Water Treatment Works (WTW). After undergoing processes to clean the water, which included dosing the water with chlorine and other chemicals  water is then stored in reservoirs and released to pipes and finally it reaches the tap for consumption and household use. The entire process cost  government and water authorities millions of rands a month. The charge to a household for consumption goes towards the upkeep and maintenance of infrastructure, WTW and purchase of dosage agents. The dirtier the water the more money and cleaning agents it takes to get it consumable.

It is for this reason that we have to take care of our rivers and streams. The Clear River Campaign is a campaign by the Department of Water and Sanitation carried out in the month of July. The campaign seeks to celebrate the life and legacy of the international icon Nelson Mandela. This is linked to the call by the then President Jacob Zuma in his 2014 State of the Nation Address, when he called on all South Africans, in the spirit of volunteerism, to dedicate 67 minutes to clean South Africa. This is an initiative focuses on river health, wetlands protection and against pollution on water resources.

The Department of Water and Sanitation would seek to connect South Africans to their sources of water and the natural infrastructure that are crucial for a water secure future. Covid-19 have hindered the annual activity the Department takes to clear rivers in commemoration of 67 Minutes for Mandela but still strives to build an awareness among communities. 

Let’s try to keep our river clean because the same water that we pollute is the same water that ends up in our cups and bathtubs.