Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

Rats are in City’s cross hairs Print E-mail a friend
Written by Rudo Mungoshi
Thursday, 02 September 2010
Catching rats: an Alex resident uses special equipment to kill rodents

There is a rodent infestation in Alexandra, but the City and its partners are spearheading a cleanup and education campaign.

DAVID Maphangwa doesn’t remember when the giant rats first appeared. Like many another Alexandra resident, he has learned to turn a blind eye to the creatures and, surprisingly, he is adjusting to their growing presence.

All Alex residents should come together to clean up their area, says Region E director Liziwe Ntshinga-Makoro

All Alex residents should come together to clean up their area, says Region E director Liziwe Ntshinga-Makoro

“I have been here for three years and it has been an ongoing problem,” Maphangwa says. “They have cost me a lot of money and a lot of inconvenience.”

Maphangwa, an informal trader who sells meat for a living, tries his best to clean up his work place in the hope of not attracting the rats. He used to put down poison for the rodents, but eventually gave up when he realised that it was having no effect.

Norman Mashaba, another Alex meat seller, adds: “They are massive creatures. If people didn’t throw food on the ground, I don’t think it would happen.”

He “always” sees the rats running around, especially in the afternoon. They are causing hell for residents; they chew through doors and get into houses in their endless search for food. It’s common to hear stories of rats eating clothes or opening pots or, more horrifying, of rats biting babies.

One resident claims: “They are large as cats.” Another says: “They are the size of dogs and they are not afraid of humans. They will scurry right around your feet.”

The rodents plaguing Alexandra feed on scraps from bins or on rubbish dumped in the streets. They belong to the Rattus Norvegicus species, known as the Norway rat or the brown rat.

Clean up
To tackle the problem, the City began a massive cleanup campaign on Wednesday, 1 September. It is a response to the problems identified in short films made by six trainee video journalists on the infestation of rats in the township that are breeding in improperly managed rubbish.

The unhygienic conditions in most parts of Alex are excellent breeding ground for rodents

The unhygienic conditions in most parts of Alex are excellent breeding ground for rodents

Participating in the campaign are the Hillside Digital trainee video journalists, Region E, Pikitup, metro police, South African Police Service, Alexandra Urban Renewal Project and local councillors. The campaign will end on 4 September. The areas targeted for the cleanup include Oliver Tambo, Kholofelo ya Joseph, Roosevelt, Alex Vincent, Vasco da Gama and Richard Baloyi.

The six trainee video journalists, all from disadvantaged communities, were trained under the Siyakhona project to become citizen journalists, fighting for the rights of their communities. Siyakhona is part of Sony’s corporate social responsibility collaboration with FIFA. It is implemented through Football for Hope, the FIFA and streetfootballworld movement.

The project is implemented by Hillside Digital, a South African nongovernmental organisation dedicated to giving a voice to impoverished communities.

Speaking at the start of the cleanup at the Square in Alexandra, the Region E regional director, Liziwe Ntshinga-Makoro ,thanked the City departments for uniting to tackle the rat problem. “If we cannot do it together, we are unlikely to win the battle against social challenges.”

She pointed out that initiatives implemented in the past were not successful because of a lack of co-operation between departments and communities. “Urban role management is unlocking the inefficiencies and encouraging a more systematic and integrated approach to service delivery.”

Litter
The City needed to develop a holistic approach to illegal dumping in informal settlements, she added. It needed to encourage people to use rubbish bins and rubbish collection points to reduce rat infestation.

Gotcha! A health officer shows off the size of rats hounding in Alex residents

Gotcha! A health officer shows off the size of rats hounding in Alex residents

Mustapha Hendricks, the chairperson of the pest control task force in the City’s environment health unit, spoke about the five steps that Alex residents could take to keep rats out.

“You have to inspect your property; clean up any droppings or tracks they leave behind; starve them … also shut them out by sealing cracks and holes in your residence; and wipe them out with rodent baiting.”

However, he warned the crowd that using pesticides or baits would not work effectively if they did not change some of their habits. “Rodent bait is an effective way to wipe out rats but it only works if we clear the rubbish first … Instead of throwing out food on to the pavements, wrap it up in plastic bags and throw it into bins.”

To prevent the outbreak of disease, Hendricks explained that his division caught rats on a monthly basis and sent blood samples from them to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for testing. “So far we have not had any positive results,” he said.

The head of Region E’s health department, Vusi Mazibuko, said the rat infestation in Alexandra was caused by unhygienic conditions, overcrowding, scrap yards and illegal dumping. “If we don’t act quickly about this critical problem, we will have a serious outbreak of diseases.”

Contact the environmental health office on 011 582 1651/2/3 for help in controlling rodents.

Read more: http://www.joburg.org.za/content/view/5639/266/#ixzz0yOoR7awD

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I’m excited to tell you that Hillside Digital is now partnering with the city of Johannesburg and it is a dream come true relationship. Warren Radebe; one of Hillside Digital’s citizen journalist’s in Alexandra township, showed up at Region E municipal offices in the heart of Sandton City without an appointment and armed with a portable projector and the video he directed about the terrible infestation of rats in his township. Warren met with the managers of Alexandra and delivered a powerpoint presentation that included our solution to end the root cause of the problem; pollution.We had no idea they would turn our initiative into a much bigger campaign. They were impressed. Since that meeting we have now presented our video and idea of a campaign; asking all the stakeholders to join volunteers wanting to get rid of the pollution that is causing the pandemic; to every level of the municipal structure under Mayor Masondo.

When Warren presented to the Regional Director of Region E, he was drawn to tears when he told me about her response, the RD told him that she was so inspired that she was canceling her holiday and mobilizing every other region in Gauteng to support us in our initiative, she isn’t the only one.

We’ve been dealing with Thandiwe Mthonti, manager of steak-holder management for Region E, through most of the process and she is passionate about us. Thandiwe has postponed her leave, despite her exhaustion, and has long term plans on how we can work together. She is determined that we remain neutral and keep our independence. In her words we are the eyes, ears and voice of the community, she wants us to present every call to action initiative and the city will help us put it in action. In our last meeting she thanked the guys of Hillside Digital for inspiring her again in her work. I had to hold my emotions back as it became clear that the dream I had on my dad’s farm in Mpumalanga was being realized.

The clean-up campaign in Alexandra lead by Hillside Digital and the Siyakhona project will take place between 1st and 3rd September and will involve the City of Johannesburg Region E, the City Department of Health, Pikitup, JMPD and SAPS, the Alexandra Renewal Project, local councilors and the community at large. The Johannesburg Roads Agency has made available three cranes to lift the covers on the storm drains and allow access to the sewers where rats are breeding. Over four days the campaign will target the eleven most polluted areas of Alexandra, beginning with presentations and health education to raise awareness and mobilize the community to support it.

We have been able to create a platform for a united front through media for the people of Alexandra and the Authorities to create change for the better.

It is a significant call to action for the people of Alexandra for social change. The campaign preparations are becoming solid as so far stakeholders are offering greater support. We have been able to create a platform for a united front through media for the people of Alexandra and the Authorities to create change for the better.

Our community screenings this month highlight’s the growing rat pandemic and is instrumental in the success of the campaign to end it. The concept of mobilizing the community through citizen journalism will be an inspiration to raise solutions for many other issues that exist in the community. It is a significant call to action for the people of Alexandra for social change. The campaign preparations are becoming solid as so far stakeholders are offering greater support.

On the 14th August 2010, I was prepared along with my team for the City Municipality in Johannesburg meeting. We made our way to the boardroom, along with Region E Municipal representatives to meet with Regional Municipal heads in health and environmental department directors of all the regions of greater Gauteng, PickitUp and mayoral representation.

It was very clear from the officials across the municipal leaders that the Rats Story has caught their attention and interests. We were there to request partnership and support from the City of Johannesburg in our campaign, in consultation with the people of Alexandra, to clean up the township. Pollution has been identified as the root cause of the rat pandemic plaguing our homes. We screened the Rats Story, which met with shaking of heads, groans and admiration at the quality of our video investigation. It was evidence about our commitment and objective to educate and expose the issue. Our strategy was that we had to listen to what the community had to say about the problem and where the faults were, investigating all sides of the issue. We have been able to unite the community through the story, and at the end of it we aim to achieve a colossal mission.

Amongst logistical challenges that we’ve faced to this point, was the lack of interest from other local non-profit organizations that claim that they have been there and done it, you know what I mean, but we assure a greater impact at the end of the day. As we came to conclusions in the presentation meeting, all regional municipalities were committed to supporting the campaign and us. They were so impressed that they want to implement our plan in all the problem areas of Gauteng. We received complements and advice. So far we are certain that the Campaign will be one the best and most effective to be implemented in Alexandra. Remember the Campaign is on the 1st to the 4th September 2010 and together we can move mountains.

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