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WATCH | World Water Day: A Joburg woman is on a mission to save the polluted Jukskei River

  • Water for the Future is an organisation dedicated to the eradication of pollution in the Jukskei River in Johannesburg. 
  • It is one of the largest rivers in the city and it’s become a dumping hotspot.
  • Now in its fourth year, the organisation has started involving the community with their clean-ups and awareness campaigns. 

Every year on 22 March, people around the globe celebrate World Water Day. But for Romi Stander every day is World Water Day.

Stander is the co-founder and director of Water for the Future, an environmental organisation that aims to keep the Jukskei River clean.

“Our organisation cleans the daylight point of the Juskei River, which is based in Lorentzville in Johannesburg,” Stander told News24.

When she started the initiative in 2017, critics said she was naïve. But, undeterred, she soldiered on. 

“It’s like we have all turned our backs on the river. There is an influx of sewage due to failing infrastructure. There is solid waste that comes through the stormwater drains – a lot of …dead dogs, strip cables and old TVs.”

Shortly after starting the initiative, Stander and her team got a group of researchers to assess the river.

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The researchers were able to collect a large enough dataset to help Stander better understand how the river could be restored to its natural state. 

Four years later, Water for the Future is forging ahead full steam and it has the buy-in of members of the community. 

Involving the community 

“We have done quite a few community information-sharing workshops with kids, university students and landowners.” 

Stander said at the heart of the organisation’s clean-up initiatives was the involvement and teaching of the Lorentzville community. 

In October, they organised clean-ups along the river to remove alien invasive plants and other biomass. 

“We hired young people in the area, which also provides massive job opportunities for environmental entrepreneurs,” she said. 

Stander hopes that this year they can create sustainable urban drainage systems, which will help improve the quality of the water and redirect all water lost from the rain back into the culvert.

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