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Tackling the Cape Town Water Crisis


I recently spent two weeks in the most beautiful paradise I’d ever visited: South Africa. The last part of my trip was spent in the iconic tip of Africa, Cape Town. Cape Town is currently in the midst of one of the worst droughts they’ve ever experienced. Consequently, its inhabitants have had to come up with very clever ways to conserve the precious water that they do have. For example, in the Airbnb where I stayed all of the bathrooms had stickers on the mirrors saying to preserve water. Also, in the airport, an announcement would come onto the loudspeaker every 10 minutes saying something along the lines of, “Cape Town is in a drought. Please do everything you can do to save water.” The residents there were really taking the initiative to save water, and it was really special. 

Sunset Lion Head Mountain
Sunset in Cape Town Photo by David East on Unsplash

Many hotels and businesses are also doing their part to make a difference.  For example, a renowned luxury hotel implemented to limit the use of running water, including limiting showers to 90 seconds, using hand sanitizer instead of hand washing at a sink, brushing teeth by using a glass of water rather than running water and, perhaps most extreme, refraining from flushing the toilet after urinating.

That last tip is widely promoted in Cape Town with a colorful catch line: ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.’

beach in Camps Bay
Camps Bay Photo by Besir OZ on Unsplash

Even though the situation might seem extreme, Cape Town is absolutely stunning and rich in cultural heritage, with fun activities everywhere. From Table Mountain to the Cape of Good Hope to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to the amazing assortment of museums and beaches, one can never be bored there. 

Houts Bay next to Cape Town Photo by Caroline Cavalli on Unsplash

One Zest can help what will surely become a global effort to conserve water.  Although Cape Town is currently unique in its crisis, other areas of the globe also struggle with drought, and the number of cities and countries facing this issue will only increase as effects of climate change worsen while the population continues to grow.  By making citizens aware of the issue of water shortages and guiding them to ways to better conserve water, we can help prevent these crises in some cities and reduce their impact in those already affected.  We must be committed to protecting our most precious natural resource!


MC, May 2018

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