In 2010, four social and environmental activists paddled from Muizenberg to Woodstook beach through Cape Town’s waterways. The aim was to highlight the urgent need to deal with the condition of Cape Town’s inland waterways. The successes of the first paddle soon turned this into an annual event. Soon after the 2011 paddle the City mayor responded by establishing the Kader Asmal Project tasked with cleaning and restoring the waterways, and aims to create 400 jobs. As a result, the waterways have improved, but there is still a lot to be done. The work must also continue to meet the challenging of building a city that values and cares about human health and the quality of life of those affected directly by the condition of these waterways, as well as the diversity of animal life living in and around these waters.
The fourth Peninsula Paddle, set to take place on Sunday, 9 June 2013, will see paddlers use kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle (SUP) boards to traverse these waterways. This year will also see feature some homemade boats made from plastic bottles collected from the waterways following numerous cleanups. Under the theme, ‘Take back the City’s waterways’ the paddle will showcase the achievements over the past year but will also draw critical attention to failures.
Everyone is connected to the waterways whether they live in well-serviced suburbs or areas of urban poverty because when water runs from the land it becomes contaminated and eventually that pollution is discharged to rivers and ultimately to the sea. Therefore, the water quality in rivers and canals is the shared responsibility of all. The event aims to highlight the environmental, social and political challenges that affect the City of Cape Town and to unite communities living alongside waterways in celebrating the value of these often neglected or undervalued water resources.
The Peninsula Paddle is getting message across. This year the organisers want even more paddlers to join in the challenge either by participating in the full paddle or parts of the route. For further information about Peninsula Paddle 2013 – such as how to participate in the event, details of the route and the programme – visit the event website http://peninsulapaddle.wordpress.com