On the 26th of October 2012, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) attended the Weedbuster Awareness campaign in Onseepkans in the Northern Cape to embark on the invasive plant control and waste problems faced by the inhabitants of the area. The campaign was led by DEA through the Environmental Programmes branch and was supported by various partners and stakeholders.
Themed Goggas nip weeds in the bud, the Weedbuster Campaign is an annual ongoing awareness creating event aimed at the management and containment of invasive alien species.
Activities of the day consisted of the Deputy Minister and attendees conducting a cleanup in the Onseepkans area. Site visits were carried out to various Working for Water projects in the area to engage with the project workers. The Deputy Minister also addressed learners and held question and answer sessions with members of the local community.
The aim of the theme was to focus on the use of biological control as a method of managing invasive alien species. Biological control is said to be an important method that reduces the use of herbicides (chemical substance that destroys or inhibits the growth of plants). Biological control is the most suitable option because it is cheap, self-sustaining, very safe compared with the costs and risks associated with using herbicides and it can be successfully integrated with other management practices.
The Working for Water Programme is the largest public funded initiative aimed at the management of invasive alien species and is said to be an excellent program integrating environmental conservation and poverty eradication objectives. The program created 36 000 jobs during 2011-2012 financial year through clearing of invasive alien species, 18 000 of the workers on clearance were women, 22 000 were youth and 500 disabled. In Onseepkans the Working for Water Programme has three teams and employs 12 local people.
DEA has invested over R20 million in research and implementation of biological control, R4 million has been contributed from a partnership with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and academic institutions. The current focus is said to be mainly on increasing public awareness on the issue of invasive alien species and promoting voluntary pro-active responses as well as community ownership of initiatives aimed at the management and containment of invasive alien species.