Cape Town Water Crisis
As ‘Day Zero’ approaches, families at SOS Children’s Villages are applying lessons in conservation, lessons that are important for the future.
Cape Town is experiencing its worst drought in over 100 years. Dam and reservoir levels are dwindling, and it is possible that public water supplies will run dry by mid-April, ushering in severe water restrictions.
The SOS Children’s Village in Cape Town is preparing for this eventuality. The Village is home to almost 100 children, living in small family units. Each family has been reducing their water consumption over the past few months, but with the impending crisis, this now takes on a renewed urgency.
South Africa’s per capita water consumption is around 235 litres of water per day, and Cape Town authorities are urging residents to consume no more than 50 litres. The World Health Organization calculations show that a minimum of 60 litres is required for drinking, cooking, personal and home hygiene, and gardening during emergencies.
In order to ensure the safety and well-being of the children during this difficult time, SOS plans to put several measures in place. This includes storing water in tanks, reviving the borehole on the property, and reaching out to local authorities to make sure that the Children’s Village is prioritized for water deliveries if necessary.
Lezel Molefe, Programme Director for SOS Children’s Village Cape Town, explains the water situation and what SOS families are doing to reduce water use. “At the moment we are adhering to the restrictions that have been imposed by the local authorities, which is 57 litres of water per day per person. In preparation for Day Zero, SOS Cape Town has explored various innovative ways to minimize our water usage in the village. We have had to educate our children on the water wise techniques, such as the usage of grey water, shower times restriction (2 minutes per person = 20L). In an attempt to curb diseases/illnesses, mothers are now boiling drinking water in the event of water being contaminated. All garden taps have been closed.”
Stephen Miller the National Director for SOS Children’s Village South Africa, expresses his concern. “As always, our overriding concern is the safety and wellbeing of the children in our care. Once the severity of the drought in Cape Town became apparent, SOS immediately set about reducing water consumption and putting mitigation measures in place. The children are adapting well to the water restrictions, and are learning to do more with less. I am also confident that we will have strong measures in place should “Day Zero” arrive, enabling us to ensure sufficient water, and good hygiene, for the children. All of us at SOS definitely have a new-found respect for the value of water, and we plan to systematically reduce water consumption in our Children’s Villages across the country”.