A KWAZULU-NATAL school has taken two awards at an international water conservation competition.

First published by GroundUp


Representing South Africa at Water Explorer 2018 in London, Ebomvini Primary received the Innovation and Students’ Choice awards.

Youth Mavundla, team coordinator and teacher at the Izingolweni, KZN South Coast school, said she was delighted with the win late last month (October).

“It is more than an honour for us to attend… but winning these awards leaves us feeling so proud and humbled,” said Mavundla after the event at the headquarters of HSBC bank, in London’s Canary Wharf .

Students from 11 countries, including Turkey, Germany and Malta, competed. They agreed that Ebomvini’s projects were creative and grounded. They were also impressed that so many of the school’s pupils were involved in their projects.


TRIUMPHANT TRIO: Pupils Asiphile Mkhonde (left) and Esihle Gasa flank their Ebomvini Primary School teacher Youth Mavundla after winning two awards at the Water Explorer event in London. Picture: Bridget Ringdahl


And the school’s ability to make their projects work despite limited resources won Ebomvini the Innovation award.

These included turning chip and sweet wrappers — which often end up in our rivers — into “eco-bricks”, which were used to make outdoor furniture.

High flying

Ebomvini Grade 7 pupils Esihle Gasa and Asiphile Mkhonde accompanied  their teacher on the trip. It was their first time out of the province and their first time flying.

“It made me so happy to meet children from other countries and to hear about what water projects they have been doing,” said  Esihle, who was also thrilled to take in the sights in the UK capital, including the London Eye, Big Ben and the guards at Buckingham Palace.

Asiphile, 12, spoke about how they had learned to use water sparingly thanks to the Water Explorer programme and this went beyond turning off taps.

“There is ‘secret water’ in everything we use and eat. So if we recycle and re-use, this helps to save lots of water,” she said, “Did you know that it takes 10 litres to make 1 A4 piece of paper?”


Ebomvini was picked to represent South Africa after they impressed a judging panel in August with their initiatives, including safe-guarding a local wetland and building a pond to attract frogs into their permaculture garden.

Grey water was used on the garden, with mulching helping to prevent evaporation.

Pupils were  active in all phases of their projects: design, execution, maintenance, and monitoring.

Mavundla said: “Water Explorer has taught us so much. It is not just about this event, but about sustaining what we have started and inspiring others to do the same.

“South Africa has a limited water supply and our water quality has been compromised. Water Explorer encourages all of us to use it sparingly and importantly, being aware of our water footprints in what we use and eat.

And if winning in London  wasn’t enough, on their return to South Africa, the Ebomvini team was overwhelmed to hear  their school had also won the International Youth Water Air and Food  Awards, which recognises community inspired efforts to make a difference to water management globally. — Roving Reporters


  • Water Explorer is an online fun, inspiring and educational programme which empowers learners to lead joint action on environmental issues looking through a “water lense”. Supported by GAP UK the programme started in 2014 and is implemented in South Africa by local partner, the African Conservation Trust.



TOP TEAM: At the international Water Explorer event in London are, from left, Ebomvini Primary School teacher Youth Mavundla and pupils, Asiphile Mkhonde and Esihle Gasa , Bridget Ringdahl, Water Explorer programme manager for South Africa, and David Evans MBE, entrepreneur and philanthropist.


FEATURED IMAGE: Asiphile Mkhonde and Esihle Gasa enjoy the view from the London Eye. The two are members of the Ebomvini Primary School team which flew the flag for South Africa at the international Water Explorer event in London in October. Picture: Bridget Ringdahl