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Cablegate: South African Environment, Science, and Technology Monthly

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061445Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4677
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5658
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9868
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 8078

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 001222

DEPT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, AND AF/S
DEPT PASS EPA/OIA,

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV SOCI ETRD SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICAN ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY MONTHLY
BRIEFINGS, MAY 2008


PRETORIA 00001222 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) Summary: This is the South African Environment, Science and
Technology Monthly Briefings newsletter, May 2008, Volume 3, Number
5, prepared by the U.S. Embassy Pretoria, South Africa.

Topics of the newsletter:
-- CT INSTALL SOLAR GEYSERS TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
-- GREEN SCORPIONS' CEMENT PLANT CLEAN OUT CAMPAIGN
-- PSSW REVIES MEDICAL WASTE DISPOSAL PROCESSES

-- FIRE FIGHTERS GET READY FOR THE FIRE SEASON

-- SA CELEBRATE SANITATION AND HYGIENE WEEK

-- NEW GENERATION DAM FOR CAPE TOWN

-- 2,000 FOREIGN MATH/SCIENCE TEACHERS HEAD FOR SA

-- FACTOID

End Summary.


CT Install Solar Geysers to Combat Climate Change
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (U) Cape Town has demonstrated its seriousness about combating
climate change and sustainable use of energy by installing 60 Eskom
accredited solar water geysers in households in the township of
Kwanokuthula. Once completed, the city could save up to 500 MW in
electricity, which could help ease up the pressure on the national
electricity supply. The project is only the launch of the first
phase of a bigger proposed project, whereby the Western Cape
provincial government would install 1,000 solar-powered geysers in
local communities. Western Cape province Premier Ebrahim Rasool
said the project was being implemented among Western Cape's poor
communities because climate change is a poverty issue, which would
affect the poor the most. The project is also a means of bringing
renewable energy to the poor, according to Rasool. The next
installations would go to Nyanga, Elisies RIvier and Atlantis during
2008.

Green Scorpions' Cement Plant Clean Out Campaign
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (U) The compliance and enforcement wing of the Department of
Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), popularly known as the
"Green Scorpions," has embarked on a compliance inspection campaign
at cement manufacturing companies across South Africa. The campaign
commenced on May 26 at the Lafarge plant in the North West Province.
The Green Scorpions have partnered with six provincial departments
and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to monitor
compliance with all environmental legislation, authorizations and
permits applicable to each site of operation. The "Clean Cement"
campaign follows a similar campaign which occurred in the past year
and had focused on the steel and ferroalloy industry.

4. (U) DEAT informed representatives of companies at an April Cement
Industry Workshop so they could prepare for the inspections. DEAT
Deputy Director General Joanne Yawitch said the cement industry was
placed under scrutiny because its products have suddenly become much
in demand because of an increase in construction and other
developmental projects. She added that the industry could
significantly contribute to pollution because of its rapid
expansion, if not given attention.

PSSA Reviews Medical Waste Disposal Processes
---------------------------------------------

5. (U) The Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa (PSSA) has
recently developed a checklist and guidelines for pharmacists to
transport and dispose of medical and pharmaceutical waste according
to accepted world practice. The move is an end result of shocking
reports of indiscriminate disposal of hazardous medical waste and
expired medicines, including human remains in landfill sites in some
Qexpired medicines, including human remains in landfill sites in some
parts of the country. The incidents led to countrywide outcries for
a stop and investigation into the illegal practice. The PSSA
conducted an informal survey among its own members, mostly
pharmacists, which revealed that there was confusion as to whether
the processes applied by some waste removal operators were
environmentally acceptable. South Africa has laws which regulate
the transportation and disposal of medical waste, but the
enforcement thereof remains a serious challenge.

Fire-Fighters Get Ready for the Fire Season
-------------------------------------------


PRETORIA 00001222 002.2 OF 003


6. (U) Forty aviation pilot fire-fighters underwent an intense,
week-long fire-fighting training program from May 26, in Nelspruit
in Mpumalanga province. The training program dubbed "Working on
Fire" (WOF) was conducted in preparation of the coming dry winter
fire season which began on June 1. The period is characterized by a
series of wildfire outbreaks which have claimed many lives and
property in the past. In July and August 2007 alone, wildfires
claimed seventeen civilian lives, including six firefighters,
severely injured twenty-seven, and wiped out 63,000 hectares of
plantation forests and grazing land. This fire season's pilots will
fly helicopters, spotter and bomber planes across the fire-prone
provinces and beyond, just as a precaution. WOF Program Manager
Fred Mokgope said WOF is a government-funded and multi-partner
organization focused on integrated fire management. He added that
the militaristic training, which demanded physical fitness and
discipline, has saved many lives and property over the years.

SA Celebrates Sanitation and Hygiene Week
-----------------------------------------

7. (U) The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Lindiwe Hendricks
formally launched the National Sanitation and Hygiene Week (NSHW) on
May 26 at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg. The
Minister opened the keynote address by strongly condemning the
xenophobic violence which had plagued the country in the past three
weeks. She noted that there was a general perception that the
people who were engaged in the barbaric acts were those who have not
received basic services and who have lived in poverty, but said that
this did not justify involvement in such violence. Hendricks said
although there were many millions of people who have yet to receive
water and sanitation services, the government provided clean water
to over 18.7 million people since 1994 and access to decent
sanitation services to another 10.9 million.

8. (U) The Minister added that at a recent United Nations Commission
on Sustainable Development session in New York, South Africa was
quoted as one of the countries which had met its Millennium
Development Goals target on sanitation, despite of the outstanding
backlog. Sub-Saharan Africa was identified as the region most
unlikely to meet the sanitation MDG by 2015. The NSHW (May 26-31)
is celebrated annually to raise the profile of sanitation on the
political agenda, to raise public awareness on health and hygiene
and to promote sanitation best practices.

New Generation Dam for Cape Town
--------------------------------

9. (U) The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), a statutory body,
is to transform the Berg River Dam into a new breed of dams to be
operated according to World Commission of Dams standards for
environmental protection. The Berg River Dam in Franschoek, Western
Cape will be the first bulk water resource development project in
South Africa, directly linked to water demand management. TCTA
Environmental Section Head Nigel Rossouw said engineers would build
a 63-meter wet in-let tower to enable the dam to make high and low
releases through out the year, to simulate flood events and natural
inflow into the dam. The cabinet-approved 2002 Berg River Dam
Project was commissioned after a water assessment indicated that
Cape Town would be the first South African city to be hit by a high
water demand and low supply period. The dam was therefore designed
Qwater demand and low supply period. The dam was therefore designed
to capture winter rainfall and store it for supply to Cape Town in
the dry summer months, while increasing the annual yields.
Next-in-line for a similar development is the Olifants River in
Steelpoort, Limpopo, according to TCTA.

2,000 Foreign Math/Science Teachers Head for SA
--------------------------------------------- --

10. (U) 2,000 Foreign Math/Science Teachers Head for South Africa
Department of Education (DOE) Deputy Director General (DDG) Firoz
Patel told the National Assembly's portfolio committee on education
that his department will employ two thousand foreign math and
science (M&S) teachers in the next two years. Patel said there was
a critical shortage of skills in M&S teaching in South Africa, while
DOE still had to deal with unqualified or under-qualified teachers.
The DDG said DOE already has 1,432 foreign teachers working in local
schools, and has received enquiries about employment from Asia and
the U.S. The program will run for three years, with the first group
of 1,000 teachers arriving in October this year.

11. (U) The Department of Home Affairs has, on the other hand,
allocated 4,000 permits for the expected teachers. Palesa Tyobeka,
another DOE DDG, noted that there was a growing lack of interest in
teaching by good M&S teachers, which is why they had been leaving
the profession in droves. In an effort to remedy the situation, DOE
has allocated R500 million ($66.6 million) for teacher incentives,

PRETORIA 00001222 003.2 OF 003


and has established a four-year bursary fund for teacher training
programs. Tyobeka said the DOE was aiming at completely eradicating
under-qualified teachers by 2013

Monthly Factoid
---------------

12. (U) 220,000 years ago a meteorite struck South Africa, forming
the Tswaing Crater northwest of Pretoria. This is one of the most
accessible and best-preserved meteorite impact craters in the
world.
Bost

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