South Africa invests in land rehabilitation


14 August 2015

The Nquthu land rehabilitation project in KwaZulu-Natal received more than R15-million from the Department of Environmental Affairs this week.

To mark World Day to Combat Desertification, Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson visited the rehabilitation project on 11 August. The project employs 192 people from nine surrounding villages.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, held on 17 June, was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1994 and has been marked worldwide annually since 1995.

Celebrations could not take place in South Africa on the day this year due to unforeseen circumstances, according to the government.

The project in Nquthu is being funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Working for Land Programme. It is aimed at rehabilitating the land through the sloping of dongas, construction of gabions, planting of vetiver grass and planting of 1 000 indigenous trees in the area.

Thomson said the government was spending millions on environmental programmes under Working for Land to clear invasive species, as well as restore and care for the country’s degraded land and ecosystems.

Working for Land projects have identified several major challenges, including storm water management to reduce soil erosion, unsustainable cutting of firewood, educational programmes on land management to improve sustainability, and protection of grasslands.

“Let us act together on a global scale to make [sustainable land management] part of the agenda and to enable the most vulnerable communities to withstand the worst desertification, land degradation and drought related stresses that may happen,” Thomson said.