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The Environmental Practices module 1 took place at the iMpendle Municipality at the Thusong community centre on the 14 – 15 July 2015 with 15 candidates that are under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). Most of candidates had a background on waste management and are working close with landfill managers. Some of the participants were also involved with local community awareness activities. On the first day of the course we had a course induction, which entailed going through the course curriculum, classroom and workplace components of the course as well as well as and the signing of contracts and attendance registers. We had also included an ecological footprint audit that the learners and supervisor engaged with as an ice breaker for the climate change focus. These activities enabled the learners to measure and calculate their carbon footprint for energy (fuel and electricity), water and waste (food packaging). We were graced by the presence of the Waste Manager (Mr Ngcobo) and Supervisor (Mr Sandile Mkhize) from the IDP and Planning to welcome the WESSA team to the municipality as well as to encourage the learner to do their best on the course.

The iMpendle area is a very cold in winter luckily on the first day the participants got to be inside the venue and were introduced to ecology and ecosystem services which was the introductory chapter which explains biomes, how nature works, and the various cycles found in nature as well as how they are interlinked. The other objective of this session was to get learners to identify local areas that have the same pristine characteristic as well as the kinds of ecological services those  areas are able to provide.   

The 1st field trip was based on an investigation of a natural/ pristine area.  We went for a local site visit to Ntokozweni. We were able find a lovely small steam which ran between to hills. We were able to have discussions around the differences between the vegetation on north facing and south facing slope, ecological succession as well as the river health. The participants were tasked with find evidence of biotic organisms and explaining how they were interrelated as well as their adaptations to the area. The stream presented a calmness that allowed participants to feel a step closer to nature.

The participants engaged very well with the activity and had challenging questions to ask. The second part of the activity required present findings based on the biodiversity of the area in terms of the animals and plants found as well as the ecosystem services and links with some indigenous knowledge of the area. Some interesting findings were that of the water crest plant which was growing in the steam is consumed as a leafy vegetable, the water lily (which is an alien plant) whose petals are boiled and used for curing tooth ache. They also found evidence of remains of a fresh water crab eaten by an otter and a frog which meant the water was in good condition!

IMpendle area was still cold on day 3, but it didn’t stop us from going out on our second field trip, this time it was to a place at KwaKhetha to investigate environmental degradation in area. This area was selected because of the variety of developments, sport recreation and human settlement that happened before and still happening. During the section, it was mentioned that developments are important in the community but also can bring rise to a lot of environmental degradation which can disturb the soil fertility, groundwater and vegetation of the area.

 For many years the area has been dominated by grasses and it is grazing land cattle. It is characterised by long stretches of dongas which are formed by soil erosion as well as walking pathways formed by man and the cattle. The participant also noted how the impact of dongas let to illegal dumping.

Most of the afternoons were dedicated to the classroom workbook activities where learners had one on one sessions with facilitators to assist them with the activities.

After they had completed all work book activities Khetha conducted a pre- assessment meeting with the learners in which learners apply for assessment and complete the signing of administrative documents such a declaration of authenticity of the work, the terms and conditions of the assessment as well as the agreed dates of submission of the POEs.



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