Three new environmental projects running at the low-income Cosmo City suburb in Johannesburg are revitalizing what was once an important conservation area

From January to July in 2015 three separate projects initiated by environmental awareness and advocacy group Green Beings, have created jobs for 40 residents of Cosmo City – a low-income development in the west of Johannesburg. The group partnered with the City of Johannesburg to employ 10 residents who assisted Green Beings with implementing their Green Schools Model – which educates residents with solutions to environmental problems such as sewage leaks and illegal dumping. The project is funded by the EPWP (Expanded Public Works programme) and is initiated in 10 different communities across Johannesburg.

“Ten residents were hired and trained by Green Beings on how to identify indigenous and alien plants, the importance of biodiversity and conservation of natural spaces. The project started off in the ext 6 Tree Park” Green Beings said at the time. This area was severely degraded with large illegal dumping sites all over the park, the team said, “The park was dirty and unsafe for residents to use. Thanks to this extremely hard working team, the park is now looking beautiful. The team then moved on to the larger 305 hectares Conservation Area that runs through Cosmo City. The Park Rangers engaged with residents at each hotspot and surrounding the Tree Park to encourage people to not dump and to respect their environment.”

The Climate Proofing Project was initiated later on in the year, a project also funded by EPWP, facilitated by City of Johannesburg and implemented by Green Beings. “Twenty employees worked at two schools, Cosmo Secondary 1 and Cosmo West Primary. Employees assisted Green Beings with vegetable garden, composting and indigenous garden maintenance and also installed three vegetable tunnels and solar geysers. Schools will save up to a third of their electricity bill by using a solar geyser and the vegetable tunnel ensures that learners receive nutritious meals each day.” They say.

By educating residents of Cosmo City with solutions to environmental problems, Green Beings hopes to positively influence the residents and create a community that lives in harmony with nature. “Green Beings feels proud to be part of a community that has residents that are active and want to make a difference” the group says.

The group, whose mandate is to “develop schools into models that demonstrate sustainable living and act as vehicles to integrate knowledge and skills into communities,” are working around Johannesburg with this same attitude to upskilling and job creation.

Read more about Green Beings initiatives in Cosmo City.