Source: 7th Space
The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs has committed to ensuring that 55 percent of women and two percent of people with disabilities benefit from the department's programmes.

Welcoming an additional funding of R1.1 billion for the Working for Water and Working on Fire programmes of the department over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), Minister Edna Molewa noted that the fund would bring the total budget for the department's environmental programmes to R7.7 billion over the MTEF and would provide 205 877 work opportunities and 102 603 full-time equivalent jobs over a three-year period.

"In this financial year, we aim to create 62 860 work opportunities, 31 277 full-time equivalent jobs, and 600 youth benefiting from the National Youth Service in addition to 40 percent of the work being done by youth.

"We also aim to ensure that 55 percent of beneficiaries from our programmes are women and 2 percent are for people with disabilities," Molewa said in Cape Town, ahead of her department's Budget Vote in Parliament.

She highlighted that the department's various environmental programmes linked to the Expanded Public Works Programmes were well known for their ability to give the resources and dignity of work to previously unemployed people.

"The CSIR has calculated that the value of the water saved through the clearing of invasive alien plants, which is the focus of our Working for Water programme - is put at R400 billion. Forestry South Africa calculated that the damage to the forestry industry through major fires in August, 2008, was worth about R3.6 billion - but that this could have doubled had it not been for the Working on Fire partnership," said the minister.

Last year, 26 700 new work opportunities amounting to 11 676 full time equivalent jobs and 26 891 accredited training person days, were created.

Giving an update on sustainable development and the "Road to Rio", Molewa announced that South Africa would participate in the upcoming Rio+20 conference to deliberate on and take decisions on using natural resources in a sustainable manner that will ensure the country reshapes the sustainable development architecture to better respond to this challenge and the emerging multiple financial and economic crises which are becoming increasingly urgent.

Molewa explained that the Rio conference's stance was anchored on the strategic objective of ensuring that sustainable development remained central in planning and execution and this was further enhanced last year, with the approval by Cabinet of the National Strategy on Sustainable Development (NSSD).

"The NSSD sets out the country's sustainable development priorities and actions over the next five years and puts us on a solid policy platform, whilst Rio plus 20 will review implementation of sustainable development over the past 20 years.

"It will also be used as a platform to address emerging challenges in implementing sustainable development such as green economy over the next 20 years," she explained.

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