SouthAfrica– Today, 16 November 2009, marks the launch of the annual Fire and Flood Awareness Campaign within the Western Cape Province. With fire season upon us, this campaign aims to empower youth through messages of fire prevention and flood safety precautions. Through the use of industrial theatre and a poetry competition, youth are encouraged to spread these messages rather than fires, acting as seeders in their communities, as they return home and spread vital information to share with their siblings, parents and neighbours.
A number of primary schools (grade 4-7) represents all the district municipalities namely: Eden, Central Karoo, Overberg, Cape Winelands, West Coast and Metro have been identified to part take in the campaign. To ensure that learners respond to these disasters in an informed way with out panicking safety tips with dos and don’ts are used to educate the learners.
In the poetry competition, which is already well under way (2 to 20 November 2009), the learners are requested to write poems and share their experience or safety tips around their understanding of fires and floods. Entrants can submit poems in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.
The road show will be in the form of industrial theatre skit. The industrial team will perform songs and dance in the 3 official languages, with an infotainment style. For the first time a life sized character, Gerry the Giraffe who is always prepared and can spot disasters miles away with this long neck, will be launched during this campaign.
Each year fires wreck havoc across our province’s beautiful landscape, destroying property, land, fauna and flora which leads to land degradation, soil erosion and ultimately pollution. Fires in informal settlements as well as veld fires are exceptionally common in the Western Cape leading to loss of life, severe injuries and loss of possessions.
The need for this campaign goes without say. In its 4th year, the campaign has grown and developed into what it is today. Working with a minimal budget the team conceptualized a sustainable long term campaign that can grow and develop each year. The use of industrial theatre and a character mascot creates longevity and can each reach vast amounts of youth. The repetition of messages is hoped to remain in their minds for years to come.
This campaign is aimed to mobilise youth, who will then relay fire and flood precaution messages to their parents, assuming responsibility for their own safety and initiating safety in their communities. We believe youth of today are opinion leaders and will inform, educate and support this campaign. This is another way the Department of Local Government and Housing through its Provincial Disaster Management Centre ensures that Disaster Management becomes everybody’s business.