The Happy Drum project was launched to support the eThekwini Safe Drum Policy, which the Department of Health will be launching soon. The purpose of the project is to stop the sale of used chemical and industrial drums and containers which pose serious health and pollution risks to the public, and health of the city. According to the new policy, companies and persons found guilty of supplying used drums and containers to traders and the public will be prosecuted.
According to Stats SA only 42% of the 13.8 million households in SA have access to running water in their homes and only 35% of the 2.6 million households in KwaZulu-Natal. Thousands of people within the Mhlatuze, Msunduze and eThekwini area now have access to clean drinking water; a necessity taken for granted by most South Africans.
The Happy Drum project was launched to replace old drums with new affordable pink drums specifically for water collection and storage. Many used chemical and industrial drums and containers are sold daily by informal traders throughout the country to the urban and rural poor communities which are then used for collecting and storing water for drinking and domestic purposes; but this poses many health risks.
The Happy Drums project is aimed at educating the public and industry about the dangers of used chemical and contaminated drums for domestic purposes and removing them from the public domain.
Death is roaming
‘Death is roaming in the rural parts of the world and nobody cares,’ says Liz Anderson, President of the Responsible Packaging Management Association of Southern Africa (RPMASA).
‘Surviving in the villages is a tough job. There is no access to running water and sufficient transportation. We’ll reach more than 20 000 households in the first phase of the project and we hope to expand quickly next year to reach thousands more. We are hoping that the Department of Health will progress plans to roll out this project on a national basis once the first phase is complete.’
Anderson continued, ‘Our common vision is improving the lives of the poor informal urban and rural communities within our developing country. The project requires a mindset change and support from industry. When you look at a cheap used drum, some people would say the (chemical) one from the traders is cheaper than the pink drum. But when you factor in what you’re receiving in terms of health and safety the pink virgin drum is cheaper and safer to use and might actually be a life-saving decision. There has been very limited support and we urge organisations nationwide to demonstrate their social & environmental responsibility and support the Happy Drum initiative.’
Launched by RPMASA together with eThekwini Health, the initiative provides thousands of community members in the KwaZulu-Natal region access to clean plastic drums for transporting drinking water.