Thank you, Madam Speaker, the reply is as follows. The Working for Water and Working on Fire programmes are the main poverty alleviation programmes administered by my department.
The key objectives of the Working for Water programme are to increase our water availability, to make land more productive and to improve ecosystems by removing alien invasive species. Working for Water provides employment and training opportunities to over 29 000 people, 56% of whom are women, 45% youth and just below 2% are people living with disabilities. The majority of the people who are employed by the programme are poor and mostly from the marginalised groups.
The Working on Fire programme, on the other hand, is aimed at preventing wild fires and combating them when they do occur. This programme draws its workforce from the poorest of the poor, focusing on marginalised groups, including by race, gender and disability. It provides employment and training opportunities to over 1 500 people 28% of whom are women, 95% youth and just below 2% are people with disabilities.
Now, both of these programmes form part of our Expanded Public Works Programme, which was established for poverty relief and skills development. This is a co-ordinated focus by government to try to secure as many work opportunities and training for the unemployed as possible, while still achieving the outputs and outcomes of the specific initiatives. We therefore require people who come into both programmes to exit after a period of time to make way for new people. What we have done over the years is that the programme has adapted to allow for a learnership engagement with the contractors and their work teams to ensure that their exit is accompanied with the necessary skills that will allow them to be able to get employment from the formal economy.
Employees in these programmes are given skills both in the areas in which they work, in terms of fire, the plants and the clearing as well as through training initiatives which are run by these programmes. In partnership with the Department of Labour and the relevant Setas, training is given to the employees. Skills that would be acquired by people in this programme would be, for instance, a vast knowledge of our plants and how to identify invasive alien species. They would obviously be trained in firefighting, chain-saw operating, working with wood, advanced four-by-four driving as well as business and entrepreneurial development support and marketing skills, amongst other things.