SANBI empowers community with citizen science

The initiative preserves aquatic ecosystems and honours traditional healing knowledge.

The second Citizen Science Awareness Workshop descended on Benoni from May 13 to 14. Held at Chief Albert Luthuli Primary in Cloverdene, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), in collaboration with the Department of Water and Sanitation and the NPC Nature Speaks and Responds, hosted the event.

The initiative aims to foster environmental stewardship in the community, which is necessary for the success of conservation efforts. Scientists, schools, traditional healers and community leaders came together for the workshop to support the learning process.

Noloyiso Xoliswa Mbiza, the Citizen Science (Adopt-a-River) National Monitoring Programme co-ordinator, collects data from the Blesbok River.

Learners were also in for a treat.Boiketlo Thobela, in Grade Five, expressed her delight at learning about water conservation, recycling and how traditional healers work.

Principal Peter Manana said the school is proud to be part of the programme.“It is greatly beneficial to our learners because it relates to their subjects (natural sciences and life skills). This programme serves as an eye opener and practical experience of their pre-existing knowledge.”

The session’s second day was less talking and more practice, with participants heading to the Blesbokspruit near Kingsway Road in Daveyton.Although the river was in poor condition, the group managed to take some samples to analyse.

Alien invasive plants were identified as a threat to the natural environment of the Blesbokspruit.

Water Can also did a presentation on a household kit that could come in handy for water assessments for various bacteria and insects.

Pereko Setai, a traditional healer who participated in programme, said traditional healers should be cautious about the state of the environment in which they perform rituals.

“Cleansing the spiritual must be in line with the physical to prevent further ill health.”

The initiative ticks off four Sustainable Development Goals – quality education, clean water and sanitation, life below water and life on land.

Gogo Nomsa Sibeko from Nature Speaks and Responds commended the programme’s success, adding she hopes it is one of many to come.

“I am happy we were able to reach out to the young and old to get the message across. Targeting traditional healers in the gobela (trainer) category will be more effective because they will pass on their knowledge to their initiates, allowing indigenous practices to be carried out in a more sustainable manner that will not affect the environment.

“It is about time my fellow sangomas took responsibility of their work,” she said.


Also Read: How to stay safe in nature

Also: Back to nature … between the covers


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