Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Dirty Energy in Sasolburg

The local municipality in Sasolburg has built houses with no sanitation and electricity. Many people depend on energy sources such as coal, paraffin and gas stove for cooking and heating spaces.

Coal is mostly used for domestic purposes. In winter you see dark clouds and fumes coming out from coal burning in the community.  Burning of coal also causes irreparable damage to the environment and there are major respiratory illnesses we experience in Sasolburg like black lung and congestive heart failure and chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks. Sasolburg is a very industrialized areas, This adds to the domestic coal burning pollution.

In Sasolburg people use Diebolbol (coal waste mixed with water and soil to  make a round shape) and most women are bound to use Diebolbol (coal) as a means of warming up and cooking in the home. Most women are unemployed and electricity is not installed, this situation causes woman to walk for an hours to go dig for Diebolbol(waste coal) with bare hands in order for their families to have access to energy in the house.

The community in this area has no choice but to use coal. Government has no plan on how to address the situation in this area. If only the

RDP house which is built by the government were energy efficient. Our municipality lacks a political will to learn about renewable energies that will improve the living conditions of the communities. They also lack capacity to invest on renewable energy.

Governments came up with an insulating intervention to reduce the impact of coal burning. They came up with strategy called basa -njengogo. This strategy doesn’t change anything or improve communities’ health or better access to energy. Communities still pay an amount of R50.00 to buy a bag of coal, which lasts for 2 weeks. When you use basa, the very same dirty coal is used but up side town. In the old way when you use coal, you start with paper, wood and coal with basa –ngegogo it is the other way round. You start with coal, wood and paper.

By Rhona Riet