By Charndré Emma Kippie
Each year, National Marine Month comes around in October, creating awareness of South Africa’s marine and coastal environments. During this special commemoration, we zoom in on the ample benefits that our beautiful oceans bring to our nation. Protecting our marine life, and its various complex ecosystems, is of top priority as this regulates climate change and the oxygen we breathe. Our oceans also play a critical role in shaping the socio-economic activities in South Africa, especially within the agricultural and fishing sectors. Throughout the month, multiple provincial programs will focus on encouraging ocean waste reduction, reducing plastic consumption, proper disposal of harmful chemicals, and beach clean-ups – to name only a few important Marine campaigns geared towards safeguarding our oceans.
World Habitat Day: 4 October
The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day. The day was first established in 1985, by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202, and was first celebrated in 1986. This special day is geared towards reflecting on the state of our communities and larger cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. World Habitat Day is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. The theme for this year’s World Habitat Day is ‘Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world’. This will amplify the global Race to Zero Campaign and UN-Habitat’s ClimateAction4Cities.
October is also ‘Transport Month’ for South African citizens. This was declared in 2005 during the Transport Lekgotla. Each year, our Department of Transport (and its various units) showcases transport infrastructure services in multiple streams such as maritime, aviation, public transport and roads. The commemorative month is also utilised to further advance South Africa’s road safety initiatives, whilst also driving awareness around the economic benefits of the sector. A key message behind Transport Month is the acknowledgement that an effective transport and logistics network is a fundamental building block for a country to be competitive within the global market. Transport awareness campaigns should encourage participation from civil society and business, and focus on the provision of a safe, more affordable and reliable transport system.
Social Development Month:
Social Development Month (SDM) is commemorated each year as a marker of South Africa’s commitment to taking care of its most vulnerable members of society. This month South Africans are also encouraged to acknowledge ‘Older Persons Week’ – highlighting the valuable contributions of older persons and addressing the key challenges that specifically affect them on a day-to-day basis. We will also have ‘Active Aging Week’ which recognises the capabilities of older persons as fully participating members of society, and provides exercises for them to partake in. The campaign, which is held in conjunction with the National Development Agency (NDA) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), is geared towards informing communities of the various social security programmes available to them and how these may be accessed.
Global Handwashing Day Day: 15 October
Global Handwashing Day, which was launched in 2008, is geared towards fostering and supporting a global and local culture of handwashing with soap, and raising awareness about the benefits of proper handwashing. Since its inception, excitement around Global Handwashing Day has continued to increase. It has also been endorsed by governments, schools, international institutions, NGOs, and private companies. This year’s theme for the day is ‘Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together’. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the value of clean, sanitised hands has never been more important. This message will undoubtedly play a huge role in this year’s series of global campaigns – actively emphasising the importance of handwashing behaviour as a precaution and overall healthy habit.
Breast Cancer Awareness in SA:
In 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685 000 deaths globally. October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in South Africa, and is a time for raising awareness about the devastating effects of Cancer. Incidence rates of breast cancer among South African women continue to increase each year. Sadly, it is one of the most prevalent cancers among women in the country. Around 90% of patients are found to survive for many years after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages. This is why awareness campaigns are essential, opening citizens’ eyes to the ways that they can detect and prevent cancer. Look out for pink campaigns this month and get educated!
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