South Africa: Environmental Management Needs to Be Democratised


In a time of environmental devastation and the need for paradigm shifts in order to govern for change, how does one address government officials on what to do, without going around the old, familiar circuits of polemic that leads to relational breakdown?

This is the challenge our research team has to address, in working alongside community members living near the Zandvliet Waste Water Treatment Works and putting that research into dialogue with the City of Cape Town.

An article in Daily Maverick in December 2018 sketched the toxic environment in the Sandvlei area around the treatment works - an area that has become as dystopian a nightmare as any climate fiction ("cli-fi") movie.

Carte Blanche followed, airing an insert in early January 2019 that the city has now taken to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

Both Carte Blanche and ourselves had encountered a community struggling with chronic and acute respiratory ailments; chronic gastrointestinal complaints; chronic skin infections. Our first round of sampling water and mud that appeared to us to be raw excrement found significant numbers of E. coli. Our second round of sampling for E. coli and this time also for Enterococcus was delayed, because the counts were so high...

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