Hot summers and drought, and flooding in some areas are expected to accompany climate change in southern Africa – and all are likely to impact negatively on families’ food security.
Now, schools in Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape are pioneering ways to use renewable energy while supporting food gardens and water harvesting. The schools are part of a new programme by a consortium of international and local non-governmental organisations including Oxfam and the local network of women for climate justice GenderCC Southern Africa.
Funded by the European Union, the programme also aims to help communities use new methods to turn food waste into energy for use in cooking, heating and lighting. The programme is being rolled out among women from townships, informal settlements and rural areas, or areas that are expected to be hardest hit by climate change.”
“We decided that let’s target women from the grassroots level as they are the ones who are at the centre of making sure that they provide energy, food and water to make sure that (families) have something to eat,” said GenderCC Southern Africa’s Africa Campaign Coordinator Bertha Chiroro. “We believe by putting women in the driving seat that the project is going to be a success.”
Schools are expected to receive solar panelling and JoJo tanks to collect rainwater as part of the project, according to Natalija Dolya from the European Commission, which is funding the project. She added that the large, green JoJo tanks can store up to three months’ worth of water.
At the programme’s recent launch in KwaThema’s Khangezile Primary School, excitement was in the air as the community members were told about new biodigesters to be handed over. Mixing manure, food water and other organic matter together, biodigester units can produce a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide or “bio gas.” Bio gas can then be used for cooking, heating or lighting.
Alice Dhladhla is a member of a community working group at Khangezile Primary School. She told OurHealth that she believes that if the project succeeds, it may help reduce hunger in the area.