SA celebrates Intl Day for Biological Diversity

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pretoria - As the country joins the world in celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), members of the Oshoek Wattle Clearing Project can be especially proud of their contribution towards job creation.

The project, which is run by Working for Water and funded by the Expanded Public Works Programme, employs a significant number of people, while giving them the skills needed to enter the economic sector. It places a specific focus on employing marginalised groups including women, youth, the disabled and those living with HIV/Aids.

Today, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi showcased the project in the Gert Sibande District Municipality in Mpumalanga.

Mabudafhasi noted that the Working for Water programme alone has contributed some 1.87 million person days of employment and training around 8 150 full-time equivalents for the 2008/9 financial year and also assisted in ensuring that the sector and the EPWP as a whole has exceeded the employment targets of the current cycle.

"Since it started, the Working for Water programme has ensured that over R1 billion has reached the pockets of poorest of the poor in terms of direct salaries. The Oshoek Wattle Clearing project in the area has created employment for local communities and this contributes to the overall government objective of creating jobs and eradicating poverty," said Mabudafhasi.

The project has five contractors with 60 beneficiaries recruited from surrounding rural communities and is clearing an estimated 200ha of wattle within the communal land.

Mabudafhasi announced that the area will now be used for community subsistence crop farming, supported by the provincial Department of Agriculture, which will contribute to food security in the area.

May 22 was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as IDB in 1992 and has since been earmarked to celebrate the biodiversity that we are dependent on for our livelihoods.
The theme for IDB 2011 is "Forest Biodiversity," with the pertinent slogan, "Earth's Living Treasure."

Mabudafhasi also launched the International Decade for Biodiversity, which follows the recent Convention on Biological Diversity's Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, where the importance of biodiversity in contributing to poverty alleviation and job creation was emphasised.

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