The green city project known as Bontle Ke Botho was implemented by the Environmental Resources Management Department of Ekurhuleni Municipality in 2002. The Project sought to promote poverty alleviation and sustainable living practices through environmental actions with a strong focus on stakeholder engagement and awareness.
These actions were required to address one or more of five thematic areas; namely, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste management, sustainable agriculture and urban greening. The initial success of a recycling initiative at local schools and hospitals led the municipal government to support similar projects elsewhere by sourcing funds and establishing waste collection and separation facilities.
In 2011, Ekurhuleni Municipality (in partnership with Netsafrica and Cogta) started a pilot project in the communities of Actonville and Wattville, where two recycling centers were built. The recycling centers were then handed over to two cooperatives to manage a residential collection system with the support of the local communities.
To date, the highly successful project employs about 40 previously unemployed people and is set to be replicated in another nearby area. As a result, the City of Ekurhuleni has just been named the cleanest municipality in the province and received the top prize for the successful implementation of its Bontle Ke Botho program.
- The Bontle Ke Botho program offers some important lessons for other cities pursuing a green town agenda, including that:
- Local communities appreciate initiatives of municipal governments;
- Proper detailed project briefings and contracts with simple terms and conditions are essential for all stakeholders;
- Continual support from and presence of the municipality in local initiatives is critical; and,
- A “one-size-fits-all” approach does not work, since dynamics differ from one community to the other even with similar projects.