Maka Enviro-News


The Bloukrans River is sick

The Bloukrans River is sick. This is the finding of a practical project carried out by third-year Botany students in August. 

It’s elementary my dear...

Unfortunately the massive fire that recently swept Mountain Drive and further south was sufficiently intense to burn most of the vegetation to the ground, just two years after the previous fire. 

Water’s impact on poverty

Did you know it’s illegal to let pool water run into the street? Swimming pool owners may only let the water from their pools run on to their own private property.

Starting off

The Makana Green Fun Run on Sunday 1 May was very much a community event and a great success. The organisers would like to thank the wide section of the community who helped in so many ways.  Funds raised at the event go towards greening and making our town more environmentally sustainable.

Get your dumping right

The Grahamstown Residents’ Association (GRA) has been encouraging clean-up initiatives around town and there have been various success stories – including the clean up near Gowie Dam, culminating in the Gowie Valley Conservancy.

Collect those bread tags for wheelchairs

The Bread tags for Wheelchairs project, started by Polystyrene Packaging Council’s (PSPC) has been hugely successful.

environmentalism through education

Recent global temperatures have broken historical records once again, making the need for sustainable solutions even more imperative. Year after year, governments and environmental organisations impose policies with questionable results.

Cleaning up and GRA

There is a growing number of clean-up initiatives around town. While it is great that these pull in so many volunteers, what is missing is a systematic approach to the underlying problem.

Getting to the root of poaching

1 May for RMR Makana Green Fun Run. May Day - Workers Day - will be a going green heyday with the RMR Makana Green Fun Run. This annual event is a highlight on university and community calendars.

Be water wise

Five SA provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and Free State – have been declared water disaster areas. SA Weather has warned that South Africa is expected to be drier and warmer this year, due to a strong El-Niño episode.

Waainek now on the grid

Waainek Windfarm
The Waainek Windfarm is complete and now operational, putting around 24MW into the grid. One of the unseen benefits  of this project was the upgrading of the first few kilometres of the Highlands road and, despite the frequent recent rains, it is still in a fair state of repair. 

Are windfarms for the birds?

Members of the group Karoo Blue Cranes claim that SA’s “reckless renewable energy program” impacts negatively on birds and makes us a pariah country.Rhodes University avian expert, Prof Adrian Craig, points out that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ windfarms. One notorious site in the USA is on a hawk migration route.

Precious resource is under threat

Featherstone Kloof is the valley immediately to the south of the Mountain Drive area. This magnificent wild valley forms the headwaters of the Kowie River system which, after combining with the Bloukrans River which drains Grahamstown city basin, meets the ebb and flow below Bathurst, and the sea at Port Alfred.

Makana Environews Green fingers create change

Over the past few weeks the members of the Upstart Youth Development Programme have focused on identifying aspects of their community environments that could be improved.

People are Living There - a real-life drama

Festival has been and gone and life returns to normal. Before Festival, I heard some worrying that numbers would be down with all the negative publicity about water failures and so on. 

OUTSIDE/ ENVIRONEWS A shift in attitude needed

A recent journey to the Western Cape was a real eye-opener, and made it quite clear that the state of the urban environment has very little, if anything, to do with money.

The latest on what's up with our planet

Great community effort - Congratulations to all involved in the great Sugar Loaf Hill clean up on 5 May. The urban environment is as important as wild spaces are and is the habitat of a species that could soon be endangered if we don’t look after it - us. 

Food is the issue - we can tackle it

Enviro Events 2015 Sunday 15 March – ring the date! – is for everyone. Join the Makana Green Fun Run. It’s the biggest of its kind on our annual sporting and environmental calendar.

Enviro awards for Gtown schools

This year the Makana EcoSchools Node has two of its schools among the prize winners of the Eco-Schools Green Business Award for 2014.

OUTSIDE Makana Environews

Help the Kowie Catchment Campaign (KCC) work towards achieving healthy and sustainable catchments in Makana. One important way of keeping our catchment healthy is to stop sewage leaks.

Makana Enviro-News: Locals get physical

Local para-ecologists get going: The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wild Flowers (CREW), is an exciting programme that involves volunteers from the public in the monitoring and conservation of South Africa’s threatened plants.

Makana Environews: To frack or not to frack?

Fracking the Karoo is a heated subject, with strong views on both sides. A 2012 report by Econometrix claims the project will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, a classic case of arguing economy over environment. 

Makana Environews: Pebble Penguins and fracking

A “Whaling” Win for Australia!

In a final call for the ban against Japanese scientific whaling in the Antarctic, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has made a final and binding decision declaring Australia’s application successful.

Makana Environews: Join the Green Run fun

Tempting though it is to say that we are living in abnormal weather, we’re not. While the Grahamstown region had a dry January, this is not unusual, and a post-Christmas dry spell is often experienced.

Makana Environews: Landfill fires and citizen science

Fires continue to burn at the Grahamstown landfill site, generating toxic smoke that is breathed by all who live downwind. This is occurring despite the fact that the site is fenced and guarded around the clock.

Makana Environews: Run for green funds

FEED at Makana Green Fun Run: Food, Entertainment, Education, Drinks is a slogan inviting businesses, organisations and environmental groups at the Makana Green Fun Run on Sunday 16 March.

Makana Enviro-News: Green events and water

Every year there are green events aplenty in our little city. Check this paper’s Community Pages, scan publicity and notice boards, and visit online sites such as and

Makana Enviro-News: Move from the bottom 

This week our nation mourns the passing, and celebrates the life and times, of our beloved Madiba. So I thought it would be fitting to discuss the recently released results of a sustainability ‘stocktake’ about the South Africa he adored so much.

Makana Enviro-News: Climates and urban farming

Farming on the up: The world’s first commercial-sale vertical urban farm opened in Singapore last year. Urban farming not only brings food closer to market (reducing energy costs) but adds greenery to urban spaces, a useful environmental benefit as plants clean the air.


Makana Enviro-News: Garden projects, enviro awards

Garden for plants and people: A new outreach project linking people to the plants of the Eastern Cape is underway.

Makana Enviro-News: What veld fires leave behind


The hills are ablaze
The last two months have seen numerous wild fires in the vicinity of Grahamstown. Whilst the presence of these passes almost unnoticed by many townsfolk, save for an occasional pall of smoke over the town, for those affected it can be another story.

Makana Enviro-News: Bluebuck and enviro awards

Rhodes University will be hosting the BlueBuck Network Summit this year, from 6-8 September.

A network of environmental youth groups in southern Africa, their summit will bring together environmentally minded students, NGOs and businesses around the theme, 'Building Resilient Student Networks'.

Makana Enviro-News: Good news about water

Plugging Leaks

As I write this, it rains. And rains and rains and rains. Finally. Living on Stone’s Hill makes me wholly dependent on the generosity of the skies for my water and I haven’t been able to do a load of laundry in weeks.

Makana Enviro-News: Algae could be the answer

Six weeks ago, the Kowie Catchment Campaign contacted Makana’s Municipal Manager requesting urgent intervention with regard to ongoing sewage leaks. Dr Naidoo assured the KCC that within 14 days, they would receive a consolidated response.

Makana Environews: More water woes

Makana Enviro-News 180 - for Grocott’s Mail, Fri 27 September 2013
Compiled by Nikki Köhly

Makana Enviro-News: Hold those hoses

Hold that hose pipe: It’s time to tighten your taps and stop wasting water!

Makana Enviro-News: Recycling, sun power and the planting season


The two-bag system: why bother?
Mary, who works as a consultant, confided over a glass of wine that she had doubts about the two-bag system. Why? I spluttered, nearly spilling my cheap merlot.

Makana Enviro-News: Weird weather: a personal view


Whenever the topic of the weather is discussed, one always hears how we are living in such “unusual weather”.
But how true is this? Is our weather truly different from the norm?

Makana Enviro-News: Hope in new climate discourse


A sponsored “hack” to remove invasive alien plants was undertaken recently by the Interact (“junior” Rotary) clubs of Nombulelo and Mary Waters High Schools, Don Hendry reports.

Makana Enviro-News: Bluebuck and enviro awards


Rhodes University will be hosting the BlueBuck Network Summit this year, from 6-8 September.


Makana Enviro-News: Birds, trees and muni promises


Makana faces an all-day Sunday power outage this weekend, as the municipality repairs and upgrades some of its electricity network in preparation for Arts Fest.

Makana Enviro-News: Beat aliens; Fire season alert


Albany Working for Water has made great strides in recent months, cutting invasive alien weeds in the most important catchments for Grahamstown’s water supply.

Makana Enviro-News: Get your hands dirty


RU Green is hosting a bus tour of Grahamstown's Green Hotspots on Saturday 11 May. They will be leaving at 11am from the Bantu Stephen Biko Building on Rhodes campus and taking a look at gardening projects, recycling hotspots, water tank projects and more.

Makana Enviro-News: Plant portraits and wind turbines


More turbines for Makana? Numerous applications for wind farms are being processed in South Africa, and Makana is no exception.

Makana Enviro-News: Work for our environment


Reporter Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko wrote that the municipality ignores ongoing stinking messes caused by sewage around town (Grocott’s Mail, 15 April).

Makana Enviro-News: Green food gardens, films


Is Grahamstown a dump? Some people living here evidently think so. Garden refuse dump sites around town are a disgrace.

Makana Enviro-News: Conservation, golf courses and the KCC


The Grahamstown nature conservation office is still waiting to know its fate.The DEDEAT (Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism) is undergoing a restructuring exercise.

Makana Enviro-news: Rhinos bring out the best!



Rhino poaching is an ongoing scourge.The cost of protecting these animals from well-funded poachers is very high. Kariega Reserve near Grahamstown has lost a number of their rhinos.

Makana Enviro-News: Run for it!



Prof Fred Ellery and team of organisers are optimistic that there will be new records. “This year we expect around 1000 participants” says Ellery.

Makana Enviro-News: A Green 2013


A growing trend to focus on sustainability concerns in research and education is supported by a range of awareness-raising ‘green’ events at Rhodes University.


Makana Enviro-News: Love is in the air


Put your love into local and don’t forget to buy local this Valentine’s Day:

•Why not buy a gift voucher from one of our local restaurants as a Valentine’s gift?


Makana Enviro-News: Don't frack around, get involved!


They’re fracking at it again - Those of you who’ve read my previous enviro columns will know that I’m an anti-fracking freak! So it is indeed with horror that I learnt last week that...


Makana Enviro-News: Green hopes and a little black bird


“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” Dalai Lama.

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” Woody Allen.

Makana Enviro-News: 200 years, a time for reflection


Project 200: reflecting on our area

Project 200 kicked off recently to mark the historic milestone of 200 years of existence for the city of Grahamstown.


Makana Enviro-News: Enviro Week highlights


Congratulations should be showered upon the organisers of the Environmental Week at Rhodes over the last week or so – including Jai Clifford-Jones, who has been instrumental in the Galela Amanzi organisation and many related activities, members of SEACC SF, and others.


Makana Enviro-News: Action!


Local environmental action initiatives:

A well-attended MEF meeting held last week at the Environmental Learning Research Centre learned of two major local initiatives.


Makana Enviro-News: Drought or not?


Just when you thought we have had so much rain the drought has broken…think again. Although the rainfall during October and early November was the best for many years, it was so dry beforehand that much of it has simply been absorbed by the parched ground.


Makana Enviro-News: Windy days


Got the wind up?
As the process to decide on whether an experimental wind-powered electricity generator progresses into beyond the environmental impact stage, debates about the desirability or otherwise of wind power heat up.

Makana Enviro-News: Water indaba


What a (water) indaba!
Makana Municipality’s Water Indaba concluded on Wednesday 15 September with high expectations.
Delegates lauded the event a great success...


Makana Enviro- News: Support the Umthati Project


Support the Umthathi Project
The Umthathi Training Project has been successfully training people since 1993 to grow their own healthy food and sell the surplus.

Makana Enviro-News: Carbon neutral events


Carbon neutral events – a new dimension in event planning and management
With the National Arts Festival now upon us and the World Cup in full swing it seemed appropriate that this Makana Enviro News be dedicated to the issue of carbon neutral events.

Makana Enviro-News: What's important about biodiversity?

In a monumental collaborative effort involving more than 200 professionals, as well as members of the public, South Africa has become the fi rst of the world’s mega-diverse countries to fully assess the status of its entire fl ora, which consists of an amazing 20 456 species.


Makana Enviro- News: Jetsetters

Ndumiso Nongwe, Makana’s Environmental Manager, will be participating in an international
training programme on local government environmental management in urban areas in Stockholm, from
May 24 to June 10.


Makana Enviro-News: Rainy days


Grahamstown’s rainfall has never been reliable. Since Roger Rowswell began recording rainfall in Darling Street in January 1986, his lowest annual measurement was in 1992 (± 500 mm) and the highest in 2006 (± 1 160 mm).

Makana Enviro-News: Hot coals

As we speak, the World Bank is in the throes of voting on a proposed $3.75 billion / R29-billion loan to  Eskom, the bulk of which would go to develop....

Makana Enviro-News: Environmental Politics


Two important meetings focussed on the local environment and environmental activities have taken place in the municipality recently.


Makana Enviro-News: Water, water, everywhere


Our water supply

On Monday 8 February the Vice- Chancellor of Rhodes University, Dr Saleem Badat held a forum to discuss the current water supply crisis in Grahamstown at the Barratt lecture theatre at Rhodes.

Makana Enviro-News: Happy 100!


Makana Enviro-News turns 100!
Yes, folks, this is the 100th Makana Enviro-News column to be published in Grocott’s Mail! We have achieved this milestone after compiling the column on a two-weekly basis (except over the Christmas holiday period) for more than four years.