Representing South Africa at Water Explorer 2018 in London last month, Ebomvini Primary School received the Innovation and Students’ Choice Awards.

Pupils from 11 participating countries including Turkey, Germany and Malta agreed that Ebomvini’s projects were extremely creative. They were also impressed with the pupils’ ability to make the projects work despite having limited resources.

These included turning chip and sweet wrappers — which often end up in local rivers — into eco-bricks, which were used to make outdoor furniture. This won Ebomvini the Innovation Award.

Esihle Gasa and Asiphile Mkhonde, Grade 7 pupils at Ebomvini, presented their school’s projects at the event. For both of them, it was the first time they’d left their home province of KwaZulu-Natal and the first time they’d travelled abroad. Their teacher, Youth Mavundla accompanied them.

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“Did you know that it takes 10 litres to make one A4 piece of paper?” asked Mkhonde, 12. “There is ‘secret water’ in everything we use and eat.”

She said the Water Explorer programme taught them about different ways to use water sparingly beyond just turning off the taps.

Speaking after the awards at the headquarters of HSBC bank, in London’s Canary Wharf, Gasa said: “It made me so happy to meet children from other countries and hear about what water projects they have been doing.”

Ebomvini was picked to represent South Africa after impressing a panel of judges in August. Some of their projects included safeguarding a local wetland and building a pond to attract frogs into a permaculture garden. Other pupils from the school also played an active role in the design, execution, maintenance, and monitoring of the projects.

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When they returned home, the Ebomvini team were again honoured after their school won yet another award at the International Youth Water Air and Food Awards, which recognises community-inspired efforts to make a difference to water management.

– GroundUp