By Gail Styger, Wot-if? Trust
Diepsloot, South Africa is an extremely poor and underserved township north of Johannesburg and home to more than 500 000 people. The name Diepsloot translates loosely as “deep ditch” or “deep gutter.”
Poor infrastructure and overpopulation in Diesploot causes sewage to seep up through the ground, while the overuse of their facilities results in pipes leaking, taps dripping, and toilets not flushing. On top of this, lack of sufficient dustbins and service delivery results in litter lying everywhere, including in the streams and waterways. Illegal dumping puts building rubble from the suburbs into the “deep ditch” where Diepsloot got its name.
The children, local leadership, and community members are seeking action to change the dialogue around Diepsloot. They have a vision of home that isn’t defined by environmental destruction.
Wot-if? Trust recently hosted two very important events to facilitate activism for peace and the environment. One event celebrated International Peace Day with dialogues about peace and the environment in Diepsloot and the second event, a week later, picked up the discussions as part of our Social Good Summit conversation, focusing on how technology could be used to promote the community’s goals and measure their action’s impact.
At the Peace Day Celebration, messages of peace and hope were written on two “Peace Poles” that were planted to celebrate the fact that Diepsloot residents have not taken to the streets, to looting and to violence, at a time when the rest of South Africa was experiencing xenophobia and riots.
It was also acknowledged that litter and lack of care for the environment was stunting growth, causing pollution, and potentially creating long-term hazards like illness and flooding.
Residents also heard and acknowledged that their plastic is ending up in rivers and ocean, destroying the wetlands and threatening the future of the local bullfrog population due to loss of habitat and breeding spaces.
Diepsloot residents are dealing with complex problems that need long-term solutions, but in the meantime they are lobbying local government to take action against illegal dumping, to provide more dustbins and recycling facilities, and to work with schools and youth groups in education and awareness to achieve a cleaner, greener, healthier Diepsloot.
Our Social Good Summit conversations highlighted opportunities for the Internet of Things (IoT) and technology to gather data which would help in lobbying and fundraising efforts, as well as sharing good news stories. They could also provide a platform to promote #Diepsloot2030, which is a community movement that aligns to the Sustainable Development Goals. #Diepsloot2030 also guides our mission and purpose at the Wot-if? Trust, which seeks to enhance the livelihoods of the people we serve by enabling them to earn a decent income through the programs, platforms, and spaces we provide.
One of the speakers at the New York Social Good Summit, Chef José Andrés, said that action needs to happen with ‘boots on the ground’ and ‘in the front lines’ — well that’s what we do and how we work. The action we need from you is to support our efforts to make a difference at the very core of some of the problems you have identified by contributing to our Given Gain campaign.
Your support will fund actions in Diepsloot and help us create more education and awareness, to train youth lobby groups, gather data, and report on impact. No action is too small or insignificant — and we are ready for the challenge.