Day Zero

Cape Town has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. I feel that the sun shines brighter, the ocean is bluer, the sea food is fresher, there’s a wider variety of flora and fauna… Not to forget the Table Mountain and quaint little places such as Simon’s Town…

Last December, my friend Bobo, visited the place and amid conversation and viewing of the photos from her vacation she mentioned that their Air BnB host had requested that they take 2 minute showers. I thought that was funny, until she explained the gravity of the water situation in CT.

Below in italics are excerpts from various news outlets on the situation in the city:

What was the biggest reservoir in the system – Theewaterskloof Dam – has mostly evaporated or been sucked dry. 

Source: Landsat Image Gallery


One side of the lake is now a desert. Devoid of life, this is a landscape of sand dunes, cracked earth and dead trees. It takes more than 30 minutes walk under a burning sun to reach the last pool of water, which is barely wide enough to skim a stone across. In what looks like a dark failure of evolution, it is ringed by the carcasses of stranded fish.On the other side, by the dam wall, the water is nearly 10 metres deep, but the shoreline is receding at the rate of the 1.2metres a week, leaving the bed exposed to the sun. The afternoon winds once attracted sail boats; now they whip up white dust storms that envelop much of the valley. – The Guardian

Residents have been asked to use no more than 50 litres of water daily, down from the current limit of 87 litres. The use of city drinking water to wash vehicles, hose down paved areas, fill up private swimming pools and water gardens is illegal. Residents using too much water will be fined or have devices that limit water supply installed on their properties, according to the rules… Political factions are also bickering about alleged failures to respond to warnings years ago about a looming water crisis.- Global News Canada

Poor management of the city’s water system, which relies almost entirely on rainfall, also contributed to the growing crisis. But as fossil fuel emissions continue to drive up global temperatures, drought risk is expected rise in places like southwestern Africa and California.- The Verge

Day Zero is an estimated date between April 15 and May 11 when taps will be turned off everywhere except at hospitals and at communal taps.Residents, with nothing in their homes to drink, wash or bathe in will have to collect water from about 200 collection points in the city. – The Guardian



Ladies and Gentlemen, this is real. It could happen anywhere in the world. When you look at the images and hear the stories of people fighting for water, it looks and sounds like something out of the apocalypse. Sadly, there are millions of people in the world, whose reality at this very moment is no water.

There have been many arguments as to how Cape Town got to this point. The drought began in 2015, are the measures being taken a little too late? What can we learn from this experience?

i. The importance of the 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

  • Reduce the use of water in your household. Yes, you may have free flowing water, but consider the future. If you’re not using the water, close the tap.
  • Reuse your water. Capetonians have been advised to use their washing water to flush their loos… It is quite common in Kenya, to use the water used to wash clothes to clean the verandas, flush loos…
  • Recycle the water… This is at the municipal level. The reclaimed wastewater can be used for irrigation of gardens and farms, to recharge groundwater which will help in time of drought and for other non-consumptive uses e.g flushing loos in the house.

ii. Engage us watershed managers to develop Water Action Plans for your town/city. These plans usually revolve around the 3Rs and ensure sustainable and efficient water use.

iii. Political will in conservation matters… Mr. Politician… Ecology is permanent Economy… Consider the environmental conservation in your strategies and plans.

iv. Community awareness on environmental matters. If I was a resident of Cape Town and didn’t understand what was going on with regards to the drought, lack of rain and lack of water, I’d be very annoyed. I’d have steam coming out of my ears, because, I wouldn’t understand why I didn’t have water running in my taps. It is important for the community/ we the people to know, acknowledge and understand our rights, roles and responsibilities in water/ environment conservation.

I earnestly pray and hope for rain…




Happy New Rant

It’s too early in the year to rant… but this is necessary…

GIPHY Originals annoyed sassy sigh hair flip

Nairobi residents have began the year with a term I haven’t officially heard for ages. “Water Rationing”. Last time the residents heard of this,was during the El Nino of 1998- 2000. During that period, Nairobi residents learnt to be prudent with all matters water by ensuring that they had water pumps for those who could afford it and enough storage containers  so that they were not left high and dry… see what I did there…:D , in the periods when there is no water. Prior to that first rationing, very few people knew what a water pump sounded like.

What fascinates me with the rationing however, is not the fact that we’ll have to wait until the wee hours of the morning to get a trickle of water into lucky vibuyu (jerrycans). Or the fact that there already was water rationing in most parts of the city  but it hadn’t been officially announced. These are some of the fascinating things that I have witnessed with my own four eyes *(counting my spectaculars).

1. On the first day of rationing, I saw a ‘clean water’ tanker outside.
2. In many neighbourhoods, especially the middle class, family homes have been brought down to make way for flats or apartments… tomato…tometo.
3. For the longest time the grass on the pavements leading to the city centre were watered, without fail, every morning just as the sun was coming up.
4. Nairobi is a hotspot for floods… not only because of its geology but also because of littering.
5. I heard that rainwater harvesting is illegal. I’m yet to find this legislation.

I have questions on each and every one of these:
1. Where do these ‘clean water’ tankers get their water from? Who has given these companies the go ahead to supply water to households? Has the quality of this water been tested? Why can’t the county buy water from these vendors and supply it to its people?

2. When family homes are being destroyed to pave way for flats, when whoever it is that gives permits for connection of their water lines and meters, do they ever do the math and put into consideration the carrying capacity of that land in relation to the resources available? For example… if this area is supplied daily with 1000m3 of water for 20 households with 5 individuals each. The math is spoiled (direct translation from Kiswahili) when they build flats which will now accommodate triple or quadruple the number of people with the same amount of water to the area. So when they give permits for such buildings to be put up, do they do the water math?

3. This one for watering the grass… Hmm… With the little agricultural knowledge that I have, watering of plants is done before dawn or after sunset to reduce the amount of evaporation. But that’s not even the issue here… why on earth are we watering grass when we have people who last saw water out of their taps more than two presidents ago?

the office eye roll over it stanley hudson leslie david baker

4. Ants and Squirrels. These little creatures often store when they have excess of anything. Food especially. This is done in preparation for periods of lack. Same concept did Joseph second to Pharaoh use in the Bible times. Read Genesis…Can you imagine how it would be like if all the flood water was harvested in preparation for drought? Then there would be a substitute to the  water available.

My ideas of sustainable solutions would include:
1. Rainwater harvesting
2. Adequate storage of water when we have surplus… i.e floods.
3. Data… Collect data and use it. We need numbers on who needs what, when and where… We need data on the amount of water we have available and the exact uses for this water.
4. Water Recycling… We need a system that recycles waste water for uses such as watering grass.

General good water governance is key. The country has sufficient water but if badly managed, the water available will be inadequate to quench its people’s thirst.