Tuesday, July 08, 2008

S2A2 Week 3


Last week was filled with quite a few things, including a trip to Home Affairs and Sea Point, a meeting about Water Management Devices (WMDs), and a puppet show. My visit to Home Affairs allows me to stay in the country until my plane leaves ( a relief) but left me with a very unpleasant feeling and frustration. Luckily, that was quickly remedied by a trip to Sea Point with my friend at sunset. The photograph is of the waterfront area in Sea Point, which is absolutely breathtaking.

I was very inspired by my meeting in Cape Town with members of another group belonging to the Western Cape Water Caucus and a legal councillor (albeit informally). It was really intriguing to learn about the details of legal proceedings around the constitutionality of prepaid meters and other devices in the same league. I was then asked to help with work around the WMDs (a poor acronym to be sure). Part of the work may be to compile some of the survey information being conducted by the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in some of the areas where the devices have been installed. I think one of the major difficulties will be trying to look at the surveys objectively, when in the back of my mind I am convinced that unless the WMDs function and operation changes, they should definitely not be used. On the one hand, as a device to help conserve and manage water demand there is a lot of potential, but on the other, since the devices are only being pushed mainly in low income communities, there definitely seems to be a bias as to who is being targeted for water savings.

The puppet show I attended was a really innovative production produced by Janni Younge http://www1.sogotheatre.co.za/. The show was specially designed for a conference, which was cohosted by EMG and international environmental NGOs surrounding desertification and drylands. The show highlighted the effects that desertification can have on rural communities in particular. The puppeteers were all youths from Mpumulanga, where people were interviewed to find out what the real issues facing communities affected by desertification. It was really beautifully done, with an opening that exhibited 3 frames covered with plastic sheets, which were covered with clay and then the actors (puppeteers?) drew in the clay and used shadow puppets to set the scene. I wish I had taken pictures becuase it was really amazing to see. Some of the major issues brought up were:

1) The need to cooperate to utilize a scarce resource effectively
2) The effect of desertification on agriculture
3) A need to diversify crops to adapt to changing climate

This week should be just as full if I can recover from this stupid cold!
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