A group of women in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, have taken active steps to address environmental injustices in their community. In partnership with Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) and the Coalition for Environmental Justice (CEJ), they have been running water awareness workshops, starting food gardens and cleaning the local wetland.
In order to address the pressing issues of water leaks, unaffordable water bills and punitive 'smart meters', they invited officials from the City of Cape Town to a dialogue on alternative, people-centered approaches to water demand management in Makhaza. The officials eventually agreed to run a pilot process of fixing leaks and freezing debt, WITHOUT installing the dreaded 'water management devices' that have been rolled out in Cape Town's poor neighbourhoods over the last few years. Despite this agreement, to date (9 months since the agreement was made) not a single leak has yet been fixed in Makhaza, and people's debt continues to grow.
Negotiating with local authorities for alternative, people-centered solutions to community issues is a complex, daunting and often frustrating undertaking; but this group of determined activists remain hopeful and optimistic. They derive strength from their love for the environment and their community. They are truly inspiring.