LIMPOPO – After realising that local rivers in the Vhembe district have been polluted by uninformed villagers who don’t understand the importance of the clean environment to their health, young students have made it their priority to clean and educate people about health benefits of clean environment.
Universal Greening Organization (UGO), a student-led organisation, believes that rural people fail to see the negative impact of throwing rubbish into rivers and wetlands. As a result, they have launched clean-up campaigns in order to educate them.
“Our organisation was established to ensure that our environment is safe, clean and healthy to live in. A polluted environment poses a lot of health hazards. We go to rural villages to conduct environmental awareness programmes since people still need to be taught about the importance of keeping their environment clean. Clean local rivers are important to our lives,” said Talifhani Tshitwamulomoni (24), UGO, chairperson, and a registered student at the University of Venda.
“As UGO, we feel that environmental education is lacking. More environmental education and cleaning campaigns should be done as cleaning with the community makes them aware of their responsibility for their environment. Over the years we have created awareness in many areas in Vhembe,” he said.
Some of the major objectives they hope to achieve through their cleaning campaign are to eliminate diseases such as cholera and malaria which thrive in a dirty environment. Last year, Health-e News reported about how residents were blaming the dirty rivers for the high rate of malaria cases. Most rivers in the area have been turned into illegal dumping sites, turning them into polluted health hazards.
“Environment is a place where humans as well as plants and animals live. Keeping it clean and neat is our responsibility. It is necessary to keep our environment clean because a polluted environment leads to sicknesses and diseases such as malaria,” said Tshitwamulomoni.
He added: “Polluted water carries bacteria that are harmful to people. A clean environment particularly offers us clean air for breathing.”