Report: The Matyana River School Water Forum Day - 2 September 2014

The first site on the outskirts of Grahamstown was heavily polluted and posed the perfect example of the direct impact that people have on the river. The first site on the outskirts of Grahamstown was heavily polluted and posed the perfect example of the direct impact that people have on the river.

In celebration of the 24th annual World Water Week on the 2nd of September citizens from all over Grahamstown came together to broaden their understanding of the Kowie (Matyana) Catchment and how we as people living in this catchment play an integral role in caring for its health.

The group consisted of members from the citizen based research group Khulumani Water for Dignity, 14 learners from seven different schools and a member from the Community Water Forum based in Grahamstown East, representatives from the Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University, the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, the Kowie Catchment Campaign, Young Water Professionals and the Albany Museum.

The purpose of the day was twofold; firstly it served as an event to establish School Water Forums within the schools of Grahamstown East, an initiative of Khulumani Water for Dignity. Many of these schools have substandard hygiene and sanitation conditions creating an undignified learning environment for school children. The objective of the School Water Forums is to capacitate interested and motivated learners with the understanding and skills to monitor hygiene and sanitation conditions within their schools on monthly basis. The findings of these reports will provide weight to initiate action by the school governing bodies to improve conditions within the schools that fail to comply with basic hygienic standards.

Secondly the day served to nurture the understanding that everyone in the world lives in a catchment and that our catchment here in Grahamstown is the Kowie Catchment of which the Bloukrans (Matyana) River is a tributary. The environment and the people who live in the Kowie Catchment are all affected by our behaviour towards it which in turn determines the quality of the ecosystem services that we receive from it.

To further reflect on the importance of people living and caring for the Kowie Catchment the learners of each of the seven schools were forwarded the challenge of producing a poster that told the story of the Catchment drawing on what they have learnt and their findings on the day. These posters will allow the learners to share their experience with their fellow classmates and teachers and hopefully provide a stepping stone towards changing perceptions, attitudes and behaviour the Kowie Catchment citizens have towards the river.



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