Enviro Champs phase 1:

In the first quarter of 2021, The Department of Science and Innovation took a leap of faith, and partnered with us to run a 3 month employment stimulus project. This project saw several UEIP partners enroll teams and contribute private co-funding to make possible the employment of 300 unemployed youths across the uMngeni catchment for the betterment of the environment.

The project was the first of its kind. Pooled private and public funds were used to train, equip and deploy youngsters across the catchment to undertake work as varied as removing solid waste, to reporting sewer leaks and clearing alien vegetation. All work, together with a suite of regularly performed river-health tests, were reported daily using a fit for purpose smartphone app. This heralds a new era, in which employees from a variety of environmental organisations, of varying character and size, contributed to the start of a database of catchment status data.

The work was the start of what we believe will become a groundswell movement in the catchment. Teams were out doing household visits to educate inhabitants about their river; municipalities were pointed to leaks, and called to remove collected waste, staff received meaningful environmental education; and partners worked closer that before towards a common and co-ordinated goal.


The event was reviewed in a partner “indaba” In April, which was attended by senior staff of the Department of Science and Innovation. They were impressed, and phase two was mooted there and then.

Enviro Champs Phase 2:

Stemming from the great success of phase 1, a larger and longer phase two commenced in late 2021. In this more ambitious phase, we aim to employ 500 youths over 8 months, and we have extended the work to the two neighbouring catchments, which are, or will be joined by water transfer schemes, and beyond that too.
The model has been enhanced based on what was learned in phase one. All staff attendance registers have been incorporated into the smartphone app; Partners have employed “project Officers” to help manage their teams, and the programme has rented office space and employed dedicated staff on contract. The model has been adapted to accommodate non-operational interest groups like conservancies, and the roles of the technical support staff have been split into two teams.