#GreenAlert website enables citizens to track Environmental Impact Assessments

Submitted by: Bukelwa Nzimande, Wednesday, November 18, 2015

<p>Oxpeckers #GreenAlert Website allows interested users to choose the location for which they wish to view Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) conducted within their area (Source: Oxpeckers #GreenAlert Website)</p>

Oxpeckers #GreenAlert Website allows interested users to choose the location for which they wish to view Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) conducted within their area (Source: Oxpeckers #GreenAlert Website)

Oxpeckers, a non-profit company that aims to improve the quality and impact of environmental journalism in Africa, in partnership with Code for Africa, have developed a website which allows the public to find and track Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) being conducted for development projects in South Africa. This online platform allows users to monitor EIA processes by signing up for realtime updates via email, enabling the public to engage in the developments of their particular interest. The #GreenAlert website, which is mobile-device friendly, was introduced by Oxpeckers at the close of 2014 to aid in infomation dissermination and to achieve improved accountability and transparency in EIAs. To date, #GreenAlert has tracked over 8,500 EIA developments across South Africa. The website can be accessed on: greenalert.oxpeckers.org.

The National Environmental Management Act, mandates planned development projects such as mines, dams, power stations, roads and landfill sites in South Africa to conduct assessments of the environmnetal impacts before the comensement of projects. Depending on the type of development a basic assessment or full EIA may be required. Basic assessments and EIAs both require enagement with the public and the #GreenAlert tool has been designed to improve the accessibility of information in relation to these processes.

How the website works

#GreenAlert’s user friendly interface allows users to choose the location for which they wish to view EIAs using the automated search function. Based on the searched area, the website produces a map displaying the number of EIAs that are currently being conducted within the preselected and immediate surrounding areas. The website also allows the projects to be filtered by category such as Mining, Water, Energy, Park Lands and Roads. Selecting a pinned project produces more information which details the project specifications including the EIA’s official ID, status of the development, and the government body responsible for authorising and monitoring the development.

Figure 1: Oxpeckers #GreenAlert Website Interface (Source: Oxpeckers #GreenAlert Website)

Registering for alerts

In addition to searching and viewing projects, the website allows users to subscribe to real-time notifications and alerts on EIA developments and to participate in the #GreenAlert community network.

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Bukelwa Nzimande