The Rhodes Environmental Awards were presented at an elegant function at the University’s Eden Grove complex. Winners were named in the categories Rhodes department, institute or section, student residence or society, and individual.
Water sustainability activist and scholar Matthew Weaver won the Individual Category in the 2017 Rhodes Environmental Awards.
Weaver’s groundbreaking approach to water issues is that sustainability in water governance is best ensured by empowering people – enabling knowledgeable engagement with the governance structures responsible for water service delivery and catchment management.
Weaver is the chair of the local water, sanitation and catchment management forum, a key interface for water users (including businesses, residents and farmers), local government, the Department of Water and Sanitation and NGOs such as Water for Dignity. Biomonitoring of local rivers and community and school programmes to facilitate understanding of how the town’s water systems work have also been part of Weaver’s work.
The Amina Cachalia Residence won the residence and student society category award for their work that included continuous information sharing to create awareness of environmental concerns, as well as practical measures such as a recycling programme, their ‘Re-think the bag’ programme to share re-useable shopping bags, sourcing and installing blocks to put in toilet cisterns to reduce water use and raising funds for low-flow showerheads through charging residents for the service of collecting water from the spring.
The Centre for Social Development, winner of the Institution category, has long upcycled waste as a resource to make children’s toys. Early Childhood Development practitioners are taught to make items such as bookholders, paint trays and puzzles out of cereal and shoeboxes, and pencil holders from yoghurt and milk containers.
Early Childhood Development/ ECD practitioners can bring their learners to one of the Centre’s Toy Libraries for a morning’s activity session – where the children are given activity packs containing appropriate recyclable materials and instructions.
“This Rhodes University institute recognises the integral relationship between human well-being and environmental health, and promotes practices and actions that benefit both the social sphere and the biophysical environment,” their award citation read.