27 Mar 14 March 2014 #e4k_water International Day of Action for Rivers #RiversUniteUs
14th March 2014 explore4knowledge, International Day of Water Action 2014
Opening the canvas tent the next morning, one’s eyes strained to see head lamps ablaze moving across the camp site. One by one the team emerged to find that the official International Day of Action for Rivers was upon them. With educational posters kindly printed by Orms Pro Photo and various educational supplies from Pick n Pay at hand, the Toyota 4×4 convoy started their engines and made their way through the meandering gravel road as it cut its way through the land scape like a river towards the Olifants River low water crossing and the tar road to Citrusdal.
The Noordhoeks NG Primary School along the Noordhoeks River was the final destination. The Noordhoek River is one of the main tributaries of the Olifants River and is seen to be of great importance to the endemic and endangered fish species within the catchment area. The morning was spent with 70 students ranging from grade 5 to grade7. They attended two curriculum based environmental education activities, one inside a classroom and the other alongside the Noordhoeks River.
Workshop 1: Geographically Rivers unite us
One of the most asked questions in our lives is simply “Where am I?” even Garmin GPS has a button specifically created to answer this question. We took the opportunity to show the pupils exactly where they were, using 1:50 000 topographical maps, Western Cape Provincial map and as well as a large African Regional Map, the students got to see what their school and country looked like.
The concept of a bird’s eye view as well as what can be seen on a map, was explained by using the pupils imaginations to picture a large black eagle in the centre of the class room, then on a tree looking down at the school and asking what it could see, then it flew higher and could see the Western Cape and higher to see all the provinces of South Africa. Major rivers and the two oceans were highlighted as well as longitude, latitude and grid coordinates explained.
More importantly, pupils in smaller groups could cluster around a topographical 1:50 000 map and discover for themselves rivers, dams and other water bodies on the map and where their school is located as well as how the Noordhoeks River connects with the Olifants River. This led to discussions on how the river in front of their school is treated, will either have a positive or negative effect on the other rivers in the area.
What made this workshop special and memorable is that for many of the pupils it was the first time they had ever seen or handled a 1:50 000 topographical map and were able to locate where they lived and went to school. We are proud to say that the maps we used with the students were left with the teachers so that they can use them in lessons with the students.
Workshop 2: River clean up
To know where your rivers are as a nation is one thing but to take ownership over them is a completely other achievement. So we took the students from Noordhoeks NG Primary across the road and down to the rivers banks with the supervision of their teachers at all times. After listening to us talk about the #Journey of Water, rivers and water cycle. Explaining that the water they get from their taps can go through a long process before it reaches them and showing them the different areas that pollute their rivers and drinking water.
It was time to ACT or to DO ONE THING (#DOT) armed with black bags and a lot of enthusiasm the students went to work collecting rubbish along the banks of the Noordhoeks River. With the explore4knowledge and Toyota Enviro Outreach team members working with them by collecting rubbish in the actual rivers course.
All together the 70 students from grade 5-7 took 80 minutes to collect a Toyota Hilux Bakkie load of rubbish from 800m of the Noordhoeks River.
Once collected we explained to the students that the Noordhoeks River is of critical importance to endangered and endemic fresh water fish species. As the river is their breeding ground and home.
We left them with the challenge to keep their river clean to take care of their river which is 100m from the school gates as no one else will, and they ACCEPTED.
So from Noordhoeks School we undertook the 50km round trip to the local dump site and for this reason and poor services in the area you could almost see why the rivers are used to get rid of rubbish.
So crossing the Olifants River into Beaverlac Nature Reserve was like a transition from urban into natural. Our team stopped in the river not only for a deserved break but also for a demonstration of the scientific research methodology. Using SASS 5 and IHAS to collect macro invertebrate, insect samples and determine the riparian habitat.
It is this that makes Beaverlac so unique the fact that the Nature Reserve hosts two long term fresh water quality data collecting sites and is actively involved with conservation efforts to re-establish endemic fresh water fish populations.
So as the convoy crossed the Olifants River and pulled into the Beaverlac camp site we prepared our camp and equipment for the student groups for our second day of water and River Action.