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Communities living near the Olifants River face environmental pollution risks and their health may be threatened. Sound evidence is needed to determine these health risks and identify coping strategies to best protect human health.

Wildlife deaths in parts of the Olifants River Catchment Management Area alerted scientists to possible serious pollution problems. It is known that communities living in close proximity to this river are exposed to pollution, but to what extent and whether health problems can be attributed to this exposure is not known.

Large-scale monitoring is underway to characterise water pollution in this intense mining and agricultural area, and a human health risk assessment project in the Upper Olifants was done in 2010. Results showed that risks from exposure to high pathogen concentrations and metal accumulation in vegetation were at higher levels than what is considered acceptable for consumption of food and water.

The Lower Olifants Project will use community surveys, focus group discussions and monitoring (of air, water, fish, fruit and vegetables) in the Lower Olifants to identify human health risks, as well as coping strategies used by communities to best protect human health.



On the 5th August 2014, tens of Grade 11 students from Gauteng schools visited the CSIR's Pretoria campus to see science and research in action. The CSIR event was held as part of the Department of Science and Technology's (DST) National Science Week. Read on

New game - Umake jogo

Download an adaptation of the game Umake to show health and environmental matters that contribute to the health of children.


Project partners

CSIR Climate Studies, Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group

Eduardo Mondlane University

CSIR Water, Ecosystems and Human Health Research Group

CSIR Water Governance Research Group

NOVA Institute

South African National Parks (SANParks) Scientific Services


Several resources are available for teachers, parents, churches etc. to use to raise awareness about environmental health, hygiene and environmental pollution.