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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) as the sector leader in the country will embark on a canal and dam safety campaign during the months of May and June 2018.

Campaign Focus

Through awareness campaigns the Branch: Communication and Inter-Governmental Relations in partnership with the National Water Resources Infrastructure Branch aims to promote water safety and raise awareness in communities regarding water safety and drowning. The project focus, under the theme ‘Canal Safety is everyone’s responsibility’, will largely be on school children and communities living in proximity to the canals, dams and rivers in all provinces.

Background and Discussion

Many of the countries open canal systems were designed and constructed years ago in mostly remote, rural areas. However today, as communities grow and encroach onto canal servitudes, many of these canals now form part of urban and suburban landscapes. The resulting increase in population density, leads to an increase in incidence access and consequently public safety risk

Drowning remains one of the top causes of unnatural childhood deaths in South Africa. For every child that perishes from drowning, five children involved in a near drowning experience are left with permanent brain damage. It only takes four minutes without oxygen for irreversible brain damage to occur. Drowning and near drowning incidents occur across both recreational and non-recreational activities.

Drowning statistics indicates that everyday more than one child drowns in South Africa. The drowning occur in children under the age of fourteen years. The Medical Research Council consistently lists drowning as one of the highest causes of accidental deaths in children under the age of five.

Over and above impact on human beings, farmers also loose considerable investments as livestock also die because of drowning in canals.

Campaign Objectives

The overall objectives of the canal safety campaign are to strive through a collaborative effort and actively engage government departments, private companies, academia, community members and stakeholders in the sector in order to create solutions and raise awareness on water resource safety.

The envisaged overall outcomes for canal safety campaign are as follows:

  • Advocate for water safety around water resources such as rivers, canals and dams

  • Encourage behavioural change towards the activities undertaken near canals

  • Foster dialogue within the sector of how the different players can work together to create awareness

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