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admin | Category: What Causes Ed 2016 | 14.01.2014
Desmond D’Sa is the co-founder of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and is one of six 2014 Goldman prize winners for global grassroots environmental advocacy. The Goldman award is one of the most honored international recognitions for environmental work and comes with the largest monetary reward a€“ a lump sum of $175,000.
Many of the families that live and work in South Durban, including Da€™saa€™s family of 13, were forced to migrate during the apartheid era.
Now the survivors of that dark period in South Africaa€™s history, and their children and grandchildren, continue to fight a daily battle against the heavy pollution. Durban is a coastal industrial city in South Africa, infamous for its terrible air quality and the deteriorated health of its inhabitants, giving it the nickname a€?cancer alley.a€? South Durban contains nearly 70 percent of allA South Africaa€™s industrial activity and has over 300 facilities. Yet instead of acquiescing to his disadvantaged position, Da€™sa has spent the better part of his life fighting for the communitya€™s health and environmental rights. One of Da€™saa€™s most celebrated achievements was implementing a method for gauging the harmful pollutants in the air through smell, for lack of capable scientific equipment.


Da€™saa€™s goal was to educate the public so that they could better advocate for their rights. When Westman applied to extend its lease, Da€™sa took the opportunity to lead a community campaign against the extension and knew their efforts would fare better if the public had a better understanding of what they were up against.
Desmond Da€™sa is an example of human dedication and the power of one’s spirit to helpA others, even against the odds.
The first Goldman prize was awarded in 1991 by philanthropists and environmental advocates Richard and Rhoda Goldman as a way to draw attention to the critical nature of international environmental issues. Oil and gas refineries, chemical plants and paper mills are among the hundreds of industries that pump toxins into the air and into the lungs of the areaa€™s 300,000 residents.
Da€™sa work is not attributed to a single initiative or event, butA toA 20 years of activism involving legal battles, community education, civil rights advocacy and worker representation. He compared the smells of each chemical in the air to commonly recognized household items, such as the smell of sulfur to rotton eggs, and distributed the Smells That Kill chart throughout the community.


In 1990 the Westman waste management company opened a landfill near residential neighborhoods in South Durban without regard for the community. When the media caught wind of the foul behavior and citizens knowledgeably pled their case, Da€™saa€™s efforts ended successfully and Westman was denied its lease. Although already a Goldman prize winner and having fought the hard fight for many years, D’saA is only becoming more involved.
Their unsafe practices plagued nearby residents for almost two decades until the landfill reached capacity in 2009. HeA remains relentless in his fight against futureA battles, including the proposal to expand the Durban port to ten times its current capacity, which would bring devastating consequences to surrounding neighborhoods.



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