Oudtshoorn air quality rated the best in Africa

A recent study conducted by Swiss technology company IQ Air, with the backing of the United Nations Environment Programme, has revealed that Oudtshoorn, located in the Western Cape of Africa, has secured the top spot in the list of 15 least polluted regional cities in Africa. The efforts invested over the past decade to enhance the air quality in Oudtshoorn have paid off, as it was historically one of the most polluted towns in the Garden Route district.

According to Dr. Johann Schoeman, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Manager: District Air Quality Control: “The positive strides made to mitigate air pollution in the region have been attributed to Garden Route’s appointment as the Licensing Authority for Listed activities”.

“Air Quality management requires teamwork and needs the collaboration of various role-players.”

“Credit must be given to the Western Cape Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs, Oudtshoorn Municipality, and Industry. Air Quality in Oudtshoorn is managed through an Air Quality Management plan, coordinated by the GRDM and adopted by the Oudtshoorn Municipality,” said Dr Schoeman.

Industry buy-in has played a crucial role in achieving the visible results we see today. As residential developments continue to encroach upon industrial zones, it becomes increasingly vital to effectively manage emissions through innovative technology. Johnsons Bricks has set an excellent example with the introduction of their rotary kiln system, which has significantly reduced hazardous emissions such as Sulphur dioxide and Particulate Matter through advanced mitigation and control. Similar technological advancements have been implemented in other industries in Oudtshoorn, including the Cape Karoo International Tannery and abattoir.

Another innovative solution has been the GRDM Clean Fires campaign. For the last seven years, GRDM has incorporated air pollution awareness as part of its community awareness-raising activities. The project was identified due to poor air quality in especially the informal settlements, caused by fires used for household purposes such as cooking and heating. A three-year tender was awarded to Mingcele (PTY)Ltd to develop the study packs and facilitate the training at Primary Schools within the Garden Route until 2024. The Western Cape Education Department was approached whereby the Clean Fires campaign is now incorporated as part of the Grade 3 curriculum. The course material is printed in Xhosa, Afrikaans and English.

Each participating school receives a study pack with the study material that is very convenient for the teacher. The course material is in line with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), is printed in English, isiXhosa, and Afrikaans. Since its inception, the project reached all the primary schools in the garden route. The project is rotated in the region with last year (2022), again focusing on the Klein-Karoo region. Thirty-nine schools were reached, amongst others in Oudtshoorn, Uniondale, Volmoed, De Rust, Calitzdorp, Avontuur, Haarlem and Ladismith areas. It is anticipated that 4 family members are reached per child with a cumulative impact of 8132 community members reached through this project for last year alone.

We acknowledge that there is still room for improvement and GRDM Air Quality unit will continue to strive for Air Quality worthy of the name: “Garden Route”, We want to protect the region against exploitation and build on the constitutional right to a clean environment.

The public is also welcome to contact the District Air Quality office for any further information on the project. The office number is 044-6930006 during normal office hours.


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