Cape Town is in the midst of midst of one of its worst droughts ever. Water restrictions are severe across the Western Cape and dam levels are worryingly low. This phenomenon in not restricted to the tip of Africa, with Kenya and Somalia, experiencing droughts of their own. While I participated in some serious water saving strategies on my short visit back to the mother city, I was beyond shocked when I heard the familiar ‘tick-tick-tick’ sound of the neighbour’s sophisticated sprinkler system. I was stunned… shock and horror. How is it possible to carelessly be watering your garden at midday while my family had resorted to recycling shower water to flush the toilet?

It seems that many people have managed to disassociate themselves from the fact that the whole of Cape Town is thirsty. Instead, they seem to have adopted a carefree attitude of ‘water running from my taps means I’m ok and I can do what I please, after all… I’m paying for it’. Are they, though? No! When they waste water, the whole city suffers. Crops can’t be watered leading to food shortages and when the water in the tap is no longer drinkable, paying for water might remain a luxury only a few citizens can afford. Like so many natural and manmade disasters, the poorest are likely to suffer the most.

Not to sound like a doomsday prepper but precautions should be taken before there is a problem. On a large city-wide scale, water monitoring should become the norm and other innovations should be tried and tested. I am no water scientist but one of the most promising possibilities was tested in Los Angeles. 96 million plastic balls were released onto the Los Angeles Reservoir to reduce water evaporation. More importantly though, water saving techniques should become a thing of habit rather than a frenzied practice, adopted when things are already irreversibly bad. As the effects of climate change become palatable for all parts of the world in one way or another, environmentally friendly practices need to become the norm for every individual. Too often we rely on governments to pass regulations or restrictions with regards to resource and energy efficiency (which is important, don’t get me wrong), however, every single person is capable of doing something, small or big, to ensure we remain safe on this planet a bit longer.


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