Pretoria - Failure to conserve the environment could lead to worsened poverty and more serious challenges for the government, says Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi.
"We are faced with the challenge of environmental degradation... and failure to conserve the environment will exacerbate the existing challenges such as poverty and we will not achieve the set government targets," Mabudafhasi told a community gathering during the handover a multimillion rand environmental project in the Eastern Cape.
The R41 million Buyisela/Eco-town project handed over at Mnquma Municipality aims to address environmental problems and challenges faced by local municipalities such as waste management, biodiversity loss, water quality management and air pollution.
Mabudafhasi said initiative has been implemented in several municipalities since July this year and will be completed by 2012. She said the department has appointed Indalo Yethu as an Implementing agent in collaboration with the municipalities.
"This project entails street cleaning and provision of street cleaning equipment and dust bins, development of integrated waste management plan, pavement upgrade, market street for hawkers, food gardens for communities and schools and composting, education and awareness, tree planting and street furniture."
Through the project the department would address the degradation of the environment, reduce poverty as people will be encouraged to do food gardens, conserve water, local economic growth and will create job opportunities.
A total of 283 jobs have been created and all employees are undergoing training. Mnquma will extract value from by-products, thus reducing volumes of in-coming consumables and outgoing wastes and therefore serves as a model for resource efficiency.