On the 20th of April, youth from Africa Unite, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, a representative of the local ward counselor’s office, and representatives from the Water and Sanitation Department, teamed up with the community of Europe for a day of cleaning, learning and fun. The Europe township clean-up day was a continuation of work that was initiated by Africa Unite in conjunction with the community in April of 2015 around issues of water and sanitation.
The informal settlement of Europe is located inside the Gugulethu township. It is one of Cape Town’s poorest communities, a remnant from the apartheid era, lacking adequate water and sanitation systems. Unfortunately, these issues have contributed to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the area, and a high risk of water and fecal-borne illnesses like cholera, TB, diarrhea, and intestinal worms. These illnesses especially affect children and youth, as unclean water and poor sanitation are a leading cause of child mortality. This is consistent with statistics showing that in developing countries about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.
Based on this information, Africa Unite and the City of Cape Town came up with the following objectives for the Europe clean-up day:
- Raise awareness on the importance of clean water
- Raise awareness on the danger of bacterial infections and how to prevent them
- Educate the community on the importance of the conservation of water
- Educate the community on the importance of good hygiene
- Lobbying for the issues of water and sanitation to be put on the map by the local authorities and hold them accountable
- Provide skill training to solve small water and sanitation issues, giving the community the ability to improve their own water and sanitation programmes
The day started with a walking tour of the township for the volunteers from Africa Unite and the City of Cape Town to identify the various water and sanitation issues plaguing the community. After the walking tour, the event kicked off with introductions and welcomes from the various stakeholders, and cleaning supplies donated from the City of Cape Town were distributed to all the volunteers.
Then, it was time to get to work! Volunteers broke into teams to collect the rubbish polluting the area and filling the irrigation ditches. The event concluded with a very informative presentation hosted by the Water and Sanitation Department on the importance of conserving water and the many links between water, important sanitation methods, health, and the spread of germs and diseases.
The event was a success, with over one hundred people participating, and awareness in the community raised on both the issues of water conservation and climate change, and sanitation. Important ties between the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government, and the Water and Sanitation departments were developed, and the path to future collaboration was built. Stay tuned to hear about our further involvement in the informal settlement of Europe, and click here to check out more pictures on our Facebook page.