When Cape Town announced that it would be turning off the taps due to the severe drought, we asked our supporters in Cape Town how they had been affected. We then took those stories and sent them on to supporters in Nairobi and Accra, two other African cities suffering water shortages, and asked them how they were coping. In this post we’d like to sum up what we’ve learnt from each other.

Water saving ideas and concerns:

  • We are spending more time doing everyday household chores manually and also using more energy as we boil the kettle to heat rainwater for washing dishes.
  • Washing dishes in a bowl as opposed to under running water.
      • We use any greywater we have available to flush the toilet.
      • We have installed two rainwater tanks and after the last rain, I collected about 100 litres from the overflow, enabling me to clean the toilets properly (my biggest concern as I hate the smell).
      • We use our bath water to soak clothes in, meaning we need to use less water to wash them later.
      • My husband has modified our clothes washing machine to use gravity fed low pressure rain water rather than pressurized tap water.

Thoughts on the drought and climate change:

    • I think human greed and wastefulness is a far bigger contributor. No one should have to use even 87 litres a day.
    • The rainy seasons in Kenya are getting shorter, and as the glaciers disappear from Mount Kenya, they rivers they feed are dwindling.
    • As the weather is no longer predictable because old climate models are no longer working in the new climate, it is difficult to plan for rain. This impacts farmers and therefore our food.
  • There is a sudden appreciation for the real value of water. Everywhere, rich and poor are carrying buckets of water. Many people pulling together to share learning about water saving.

Our collective future in Africa looks drier than our past. In the short term, these water saving ideas will help all of us, however if we are to have plentiful water for everyone in the long term, we must protect the climate. For 350 Africa, this means ensuring no new fossil fuel infrastructure is built, no new money goes towards dirty energy, and we have a just transition to 100% renewable energy for all, including those who currently don’t have access to electricity.