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Engineer Your Earth

Four finalists from the “Engineer Your Earth” competition will be present at a function hosted by the South African Women in Engineering.

On 17 October, the four finalists from the “Engineer Your Earth” competition will be present at a networking function hosted by the South African Women in Engineering (SAWomEng) group.

The competition organized by the UNESCO Engineering Initiative and the Earth Science Education in Africa Initiative, invited participants to find sustainable development solutions to local environmental problems. The competition was open to Africans, ages 18 to 30, of various academic backgrounds whose proposals reflected personal experiences. The proposals dealt with a number of contemporary issues, such as mining, water sanitation and natural hazards. The jury was composed of representatives of the SAWomEng and YES Network. The proposals of the four finalists are as follows:
Yetunde Dada and Mmathapelo Makgabutlane
Air Pollution Control
According to the authors, Gaborone, Botswana suffers from one of the highest levels of air pollution in world. Its pollution is due to its social development and its particular climate and geography. In order to improve the air quality, the authors suggest a long-term solution involving the installation of wind turbines as a way to disperse in the atmosphere the polluted air. By creating tunnels in the Kgale and Oodi hills, and monitoring air pressure within the tunnels, this proposal could solve a local environmental problem. 

Wiebke Toussaint
Waste in the Jukskei River
In this proposal the author focused on reducing the waste found in the Jukskei River. This river passes through a number of suburbs and townships and oftentimes during the summer months it overflows destroying homes. Given the amount of waste in the water there are a number of health issues that emerge as a result of this flooding. In order to clean this river, the author stresses the need to develop partnerships with civil society groups. The author also highlights a variety of options including, environmentally-sustainable water filters.

Mukovhe Confidence Tshilande
Waste disposal challenges in Dzimauli village in Limpopo, South Africa
On of the key challenges facing residents of the agricultural village of Dzimauli is solid waste management. As the author suggests, despite the village having a high number of young residents who have completed their secondary education, few have an understanding of waste disposal. In order to rectify this situation, the author argues for the adoption of the “cradle-to-grave” approach where the emphasis is on reusing, reducing and recycling solid wastes. The author recommends educating youths about the importance of properly managing solid wastes, bringing the subject to the attention of municipal and tribal leaders and conducting a variety of feasibility reports on the area.

Nkhumeleni Tshiongo and Rendani Tshotheli
The Detrimental effects of acidic water from coal processing plant and possible solutions
The increasing demand for energy in South Africa has meant the mining of more coal in the region. The authors state one of the side effects to the production of coal is acidic water. This water ends up saturating underground supplies that result in the ingestion of acidic water by people and animals in bordering mining communities. In order to neutralise water, the authors suggest using hydro and electrometallurgical processes or desulphurization. In doing so, a number of people will benefit from this sustainable development solution including, mining companies and communities.