16 February 2009
An intervention survey conducted by the Paraffin Safety Association of Southern Africa (PASASA) shows that tightly packed dwellings and the widespread use of paraffin are a lethal combination in many informal settlements. This survey which covered a total of 2,047 households, 3, 764 learners, crèches and other institutions of importance unearthed the following challenges:
1. Some residents are not aware of the safest ways of using paraffin.
2. Majority of the shacks are covered in plastic and furnished with combustible material that fuels fire.
3. 38% of the respondents think it’s not necessary to use a separate / different container to store paraffin, while 22% are not sure.
4. 77% of them use paraffin stoves for more than 12 months without undergoing repairs or check-ups.
5. 30% of households use paraffin appliances inside the house without any fresh air into the room to clear the bad fumes.
6. 59% of the respondents think that if a child swallowed paraffin, they should be made to vomit.
“We as PASASA in collaboration with our partners Engen embarked on a mission of raising these issues so that residents of the area can take ownership and put in place mitigation plans to protect their families and households”, says Joe Baleka, a Community Project Officer from the association.
“More than 40 community members (including Ward Committee members of Ward 77) were identified and provided with necessary training to be community champions who will be able to cascade our safety messages to the end-users of paraffin. Furthermore, 30 Ivory Park Emergency Management Services (EMS) staff were trained in Train the Trainer training”, concludes Mr. Baleka. The training of these stakeholders was crucial in our bid for capacity building and sustainability of our intervention programmes within communities.
Ivory Park lies in the north east of Johannesburg city centre, an area with a high rate of unemployment. People in the area especially in the informal settlements, use a combination of electricity, paraffin, wood and coal mostly in winter. Paraffin is easily available and it is sold in bulk at all shops and spaza shops. According to Ward 77 Councillor, Mr. Titus Mabotja, most of the informal settlements around Ivory Park are prone to negative paraffin related incidents. The Paraffin Safety Association would like to thank all its partners who fully supported the campaign, and we will continue to appreciate the ongoing support in all our future interventions.
Issued by: The Paraffin Safety Association of Southern Africa
Phumzile Nteyi – Communications Co-ordinator (082 440 8440)
Tel: +27 21 671 5767, Fax: +27 671 0233, website: www.paraffinsafety.org
For in-depth interviews contact: Joe Baleka – Community Project Officer
(072 323 6953) Tel: 012 349 5479