Health surveillance of premises is a function of Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM’s) Municipal Health Services (MHS) Section who serve to promote safe, healthy and hygienic conditions at all premises e.g. housing, business and public premises. If it is found that conditions exist which cause a health hazard an investigation and evaluation will follow to initiate corrective action(s).
According to Mr Johan Compion, Manager: Municipal Health and Environmental Services “the municipality does about 4 819,5 municipal health inspections per month”. He also said: “The busiest time for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), remain between September and November.”
Facilities that fall under the jurisdiction of a District Municipality
MHS include the identification, monitoring and evaluation of health risks, nuisance and hazards on premises or facilities such as:
body piercing/tattoo parlours;
health care facilities;
old age homes;
places of care;
premises where animals are kept;
public toilet facilities;
recreation ablution facilities;
self-catering accommodation premises; and
tertiary and other educational institutions.
Environmental Health Inspections
Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) conduct Environmental health inspections of premises and can do this unannounced. During this process, EHPs use inspection checklists and generate inspection reports. Such a report includes the relevant health recommendations, issued by EHPs to the person in charge or the owner of premises after every inspection. An inventory or database of all premises (e.g. childcare centres, nursing homes, beauty salons, schools etc.) is kept and maintained by the MHS office, for monitoring and control purposes.
These inspections adopt a risk management approach with a specific focus on ventilation, lighting, indoor air quality, food safety, water and sanitation practices, management of waste, pest control, disease transmission risk factors, hygiene practices and other conditions that are likely to pose a hazard or risk to human health. After inspections, businesses who were inspected receive a list of recommendations and remedial actions to follow. This also forms part of the health education rolled out during environmental health inspections.
Inspections and investigations happen in accordance with Section 82 and 83 of the National Health Act for regulatory compliance reasons. If any conditions persist at a premises, which can be a risk to the health of community members, the Municipal Health Section can take action in terms of the Health Act, 2003 (Act 61 of 2003) and Municipal Health By-Laws. To this end, it is important for preventative and corrective measures to be in place.
For any information or complaints, contact the GRDM MHS at 044 – 803 1300, alternatively e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landowners in the Garden Route, as well as the environment they live in, has over the past three years suffered tremendously as a result of a series of severe wildfire disasters which basically burnt well over 200 000 hectares to a tinder.
In a joint effort to assist landowners, the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and SCLI Environmental launched an extensive landowner assistance programme aimed at assisting landowners in gathering spatial data on the extent of regrowth of invasive alien plants (IAPs) on their land, and provide technical and herbicide assistance to landowners indicating a willingness to eradicate and control invasive alien plants on their land. SCLI is the implementing agent for the programme.
According to Cobus Meiring, manager of the GREF Secretariat, and chairperson of SCLI, further objectives of the programme include generating opportunities for regional invasive alien plant control and clearing contractor teams, and empowering landowners in complying with Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) regulations pertaining to the management of IAPs on private land.
In many parts of the western and northern parts of the Garden Route, the crippling drought compounded the effects of the wildfire disasters. In places south of Riversdale, which burnt back in early 2017, the environment only now starts showing signs of vegetation cover.
Government is taking a tough stand on land management, especially invasive alien plant control and eradication
Following the out-of-control wildfires, authorities are clamping down on landowners allowing their land to become overrun by invasive alien trees and biomass which, if not better managed and controlled, will set the scene for a repeat of the intense 2017 fires.
“However, landowners are in a difficult situation as combating invasive alien plants can be a costly exercise, with relentless and fast regrowth patterns, requiring never-ending commitment and resources from landowners. More often than not, land affected by IAPs are on parcels of land that are not viable from a farming perspective, clustered in areas that are difficult to access on either steep slopes or nestled in deep ravines,” explains Meiring.
“As a first step to better land management and compliance with environmental legislation, governmental officials insist that landowners develop Invasive Alien Plant Control Plans. Complicating matters even further is that all landowners and estate agents have to make mention of the extent of IAPs on a saleable land as an addendum to a sales agreement.”
GREF will assist participating and qualifying landowners with the compilation of standardised Invasive Alien Plant (IAP) Control Plans, and where applicable, issue herbicide volumes in accordance.
Use of herbicide not ideal, but a crucial tool in managing IAPs on a landscape scale
Landowners in the Garden Route are serious about living in an environment that is as uncontaminated as possible, and many are against the use of herbicides.
Meiring says the safe use and application of herbicide is imperative to the roll-out of the landowner assistance programme, and participating landowners will be expected to abide by health and safety regulations, and apply herbicide strictly as prescribed by the labels, depending on which type is best suited for the plants they have to treat.
** The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serve as a catalyst to drive climate adaption practices in the Southern Cape and strive to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.
Cobus Meiring: Manager of the GREF Secretariat and Chairperson of SCLI
The South African Weather Service today, 28 August 2019, informed the Garden Route District Municipality’s Disaster Management Centre that there was a 6.6 magnitude earthquake near the South Sandwich Islands Region and South Georgia last night. It took place 2768 km from Rio Gallegos, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.
As a result of this, there is a possibility of a higher sea swell between 11:00 and 13:00 today. Not a significant impact, but we expect a 0.5m rise above the normal high watermark. We would like to advise fishermen to be cautious during this time.
GEORGE: Garden Route District Municipality (Garden Route DM) in collaboration with the South African Police Services’ Eden Cluster and Western Cape Government’s (WCG) Department of Community Safety (DOCS), on 23 and 24 August 2019, hosted a two-day multidisciplinary workshop about the following:
This workshop proved that there is a strong political will and an inter-departmental commitment to finding sustainable solutions for societal ills faced by communities. One of the many interventions discussed was the development of safety plans and the roll-out of community safety projects. Local municipalities will spearhead the development of safety plans, while Garden Route District Municipality will coordinate and fund the establishment it, including safety projects.
During the event, Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality, Councillor Memory Booysen, reaffirmed the District’s commitment to the development of Safety Plans and projects by saying, “We will avail R50 000 per municipality to assist them with community safety projects, but first, local municipalities (Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay, Hessequa, Oudtshoorn and Kannaland), must establish safety forums.
The two-day workshop also derives from the January 2019 Eden Cluster Anti-Crime Summit. According to Eden Cluster Commander, Major-General Oswald Reddy, “We noticed a gradual increase in contact crimes – women and children were victims of this. In most cases, either the victim or the offender were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” It is for this reason that we thought it best to utilise the Western Cape Government’s “Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer” programme to build social cohesion and resilience among community members.
DEVELOPING OF SAFETY PLANS
Ms Theresha Hanekom, Deputy Director: Strategic and Knowledge Management at Western Cape Government, presented what safety plans are, their purpose, including key elements and features of such a plan. “A safety plan is an integrated social crime prevention plan that acts as a starting point in informing numerous stakeholders about safety issues within their particular communities/region,” said Hanekom.
Later during the programme, Mr Monde Stratu, Municipal Manager of Garden Route District Municipality, said: “On 7 August 2019, Garden Route District Municipality and other municipalities met with the Minister of Community Safety, MEC Albert Fritz. MEC Fritz emphasised the importance of establishing community safety forums.”
“Safety plans and outlined targets for accounting officers who should not only develop plans, but also implement them.”
Stratu also explained expectations of Local Municipalities by saying:
“We require local municipalities to:
establish safety forums as a matter of urgency;
provide clear project plans who require funding; and
identify mediators (three per local municipality).
Stratu shared that the District will put aside R2500.00 for the establishment of safety forums.
In wrapping up day two’s programme, Mr Stratu urged audience members to be conscious of the following: “While we move forward to 2021, the end of the current term of council, there will be a lot of unrest. We need people who can mediate between the various stakeholders.”
“Everyone should reflect that if we compare ourselves to other districts, we are quite safe. It is still important to take a step back and reflect on what it is that has gone wrong over the past few months.”
MEDIATION CAPACITY BUILDING
Mr David Williams, Grabouw Community Police Forum Chairperson presented an insightful and informative presentation about mediation. Mediation during a crisis follows a range of steps, which includes various role players like first responders and mediators.
For instance, a first responder can be anyone from the public and play a similar role to that of community intelligence officers.
They are responsible for:
assessing why there is conflict;
identify why protest action is taking place; who the leaders are; who the instigators are;
liaising with SAPS and/or Law Enforcement Officers;
briefing of district safety coordinator and mediation coordinators; and
introducing a mediator to a group of community members.
Local municipalities must identify three mediators, while the district identifies two mediators.
establish credibility and neutrality;
discuss issues and explore options for conflict resolution;
not be politically affiliated;
be in good standing with community members;
be a person with integrity;
be able to speak two of the three official languages of the Western Cape;
have knowledge of laws and regulations.
In referring to mediators, Major General Reddy explained that the Eden Cluster wants to “empower mediators” and to “ensure that mediators have an aptitude for the job.” He said that mediator teams are “a priority for SAPS over the next three months.”
ALCOHOL HARMS REDUCTION
This topic focused specifically on how to reduce harms associated with irresponsible liquor trading and alcohol abuse in targeted areas.
Mr Justin Lottring, Deputy Director, WCG’s Department of Community Safety explained that “The ‘Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer’ is one of seven-game-changers in the WC. He said, “The Eden Cluster also embraced the ‘After School Violence Game Changer’.” View the WC Game Changers here: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/game-changers/
“One of the reasons why we focus on alcohol reduction here, is because it places tremendous pressure on the health care system,” said Lottring. This is especially true when thinking about the causes of road accidents, accidents involving pedestrians, sexual violence, assaults and even murders.
“Social harms like domestic violence are mostly related to alcohol abuse,” said Lottring.
WCG’s approach is to reduce access to alcohol, create alternative recreational activities and increase health and social services to distressed communities.
What is causing the excessive usage of alcohol within our community? (Adults and Youth)
What resources are there in the community that can potentially mitigate these causes?
What is the action plan going forward?
Following these questions, groups discussed problem areas identified by their municipal area group. Groups identified root causes of alcohol misuse and produced workable and executable action plans. Participants aligned recreational or remedial activities to sector departments or agencies for auctioning. Each group had an opportunity to present their group’s findings.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
Ms Anna-Marie Muller from the DG Murray Trust, presented their views and research about Early Childhood Development (ECD).
She explained: “In ECD, there is a child and there is a child’s development. From a child’s developmental viewpoint, it progresses from Prenatal, Early Childhood, Middle Childhood and Adolescence early adulthood.”
When referring specifically to the first 1 000 days of a child’s development, Muller took it a step further by illustrating that “the brain means is highly responsive to environmental factors that promote strong brain development (protective factors). These include the good health and nutritional status of the mother, infant and child; a clean environment free of pollutants such as alcohol and drugs whilst in the womb. As an infant and young child; strong, protective and stimulating relationships with parents and other primary caregivers are of utmost importance. These relationships can introduce language-rich, nurturing and responsive caregiving circumstances; and access to safe care and quality early learning opportunities. It has to start from birth and until the child enters formal school, in centre- and non-centre-based ECD programmes.”
In summary, Muller presented the World Health Organisation’s framework for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential. The guiding principles include good health; adequate nutrition; responsive caregiving; security and safety and opportunities for early learning. At DG Murray Trust they compiled 10 powerful opportunities for change, accessible on their website at https://dgmt.co.za/about-us/
In closing the workshop, Major General Reddy urged role players to “hit the ground running” and that there would be “time-frames, responsible persons and departments” to ensure that the programme is effectively monitored and evaluated. “Over the next few months, we will also launch a project to address domestic violence and to empower victims of crimes”