Prior to coming to Cape Town, myself and others were conflicted on the impact of the water crisis in South Africa. I didn’t know anything other than what mainstream media in the States was broadcasting and an email from the IES Abroad program. The news would say, “Severe water crisis in South Africa…Dams nearly drained of fresh water.” So on and so forth. I couldn't help but think, should I really go abroad during this time of crisis?
As I have been here for over a month now, I can tell you that there is an extreme miscommunication with mainstream media and the reality of the situation. Yes, water is limited compared to previous times in South Africa, but water has not completely disappeared or evaporated! Whether you’re in a store, restaurant, hotel, hiking, the bathroom, or driving, you will find a reminder notice of the current water situation and ways to be more efficient with your daily usage. This may be through the use of waterless sanitizer, less toilet flushes, less water available through the toilet or sink, shorter showers, reuse of water, etc. I find this as a very effective campaign strategy to continuously remind everyone – wherever they may be – to be mindful.
My experience with the water shortage has not affected my time in Cape Town, South Africa in any way. If anything, I have grown more conscious, active, and moderate in my usage and behavior. It's so important to have these cross-cultural experiences for further personal growth and understanding.
My question now is, How can the average American use 300 – 400 litres of water a day? Is that me? Upon returning to the States, I hope to remain moderate in my water usage. I intend to educate my roommates and friends about the different methods of conserving water – and our utility bill – more efficiently. Everything I could do in the States with water - besides take a bath - you can do in South Africa!
For the students and their families who may be considering studying abroad to Cape Town, go for it. Do not be afraid of what you may see online or hear on the news. The infamous ‘Day Zero’ in Cape Town has officially been pushed beyond 2019. While here, it has rained and stormed numerous days and nights. There have even been flash flood warnings more recently so in different areas of the Western Cape as well. Overall, it's been so powerful to see how communities have come together to conserve water amongst each other.
My advice to travelers of South Africa is to simply be smart with your daily water usage. Join the movement, #50LitreLife.
“Let’s keep saving, even if it’s raining.”
I can’t help but think of the classic tune, “Africa” by Toto…
“I bless the rains down in Africa…” and we keep praying for more!
It’s gonna to take a lot to drag me away from Cape Town. I’m gonna take some time to do the things I’ve never had…