Companies collaborate with an urgent Call to Action to ensure Schools remain Open, Operational & Sanitary during the Cape Town Water Crisis.
SOS, Save Our Schools – Water Crisis Awareness Initiative
Cape Town, March, 2018: SOS – We all know the term in popular usage. SOS became associated with such phrases as “Save our Ship” – a crisis on the water or simply a water crisis. Cape Town is predicted to be the first of the so called “modern world’s first major city” which could run completely out of municipal drinking water. Let us just think about that for a moment, run dry? What does that actually mean, and how could this happen?
There are many explanations and reasons and most people, living or interested in Cape Town have been bombarded with reasoning and excuses from political mismanagement to 3 years in a row “coincidence drought” to poorly maintained water supply systems. As all politically managed societies, we are quick to first blame and only thereafter, to action solutions to deal with the crisis in front of us. The fact is that ‘water scarcity’ is a new norm that we need to internalize and most of the actions lie within the individual to change behavior, not only whilst the crisis is ongoing, but thereafter, moving forward.
We can no longer live with the idea that this would be a short-term drought and that things would return to normal at some point,” Shelley Humphreys, Director of Water4CapeTown says. “Climate change is a ‘real’ issue, and it’s only begun to dawn on us how much the demand for water will just keep increasing.” Looking to action, Water4CapeTown, an NPO formed by Humphreys in September last year, began researching the globe to seek opinion leaders and specialists for more information and focus on Cape Town’s new reality. Cape Town’s main sources of income is provided by Agriculture, the Wine Industry and Tourism, all business areas with a huge need of water and all with a pressured role to keep the fragile economy of South Africa going.
We reached out to climate change ambassadors and one organization stood out, that being former Vice President of the United States Mr. Al Gore spearheading the Climate Reality Project. ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, a documentary film was initially released in 2006 which highlighted the very real issues of Climate Change. The sequel has just recently been released in 2017 namely ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ which documents Al Gore continuing his tireless fight around the world training an army of activists and influencing international climate policy with a positive message that the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.
Water4CapeTown has partnered with the Victoria & Alfred Waterfont to help educate about the water crisis with a series of events in March, commencing with a Water Expo at the Clock Tower on World Water Day, that being, Thursday 22 March. Humphreys states “We wanted to create a space where people can come and ask questions about the water crisis and get some proper answers. I’ve witnessed much confusion over the rules and meanings of Level 6B, especially around Borehole restrictions. We will have a team of experts available on this day to assist in clearing up any misinformation or miscommunication”. World Water Day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in developing countries and is observed by people and organizations worldwide and will be celebrated at The Clock Tower with a day of activities and entertainment with the aim to educate.
“Mr Pancho Campo, (a member of the Advisory Board for the Climate Reality Project) will be flying in from his home town of Marbella to be the keynote speaker and host for World Water Day, as well as the screening at the Ampitheatre, that evening, of The Inconvenient Sequel. “He will also be our honorable guest and host for our’Edible Art Dinner Auction the evening after, where we will be raising funds for the Water4CapeTown charity”. Humphreys advises that this series of events will be leading up to a water focused Climate Change event in November this year with the man himself, Mr. Al Gore as the keynote speaker.
With this opportunity of international awareness and fundraising, Water4CapeTown set out to identify businesses to partner with, to action much needed assistance at schools being affected within the Western Cape drought zone.
Humphreys along with committed founding partners, Swish Property Group, ISUZU and JoJo Tanks, created the program SOS – Save Our Schools. “The campaign is intended to help make lasting, permanent decreases in individual daily water use in response to the mandated reduction targets – we believe the most efficient way to do so is through our children” – Humphreys states.
“It was important for the campaign to assist practically as well as educationally, to dig deeper and truly understand the negative impacts the water crisis already is making on our children’s daily lives and 3 main areas were identified, Sanitation, Sports & Micro-Farming”. With all schools having to reduce their water usage and with no rainfall to fill water tanks for those that have, Principals are struggling with the knowledge that bacterial risks are hugely heightened, having to shut down most taps and advise children to only flush ‘when necessary’ will ultimately lead to the potential for disease outbreaks. Most school pools have had to be shut, impacting all swimming sports and now with no water to irrigate, most sports relying on green fields have also been halted. “Many schools in their efforts to teach learners about sustainability had carried out small scale micro-farming projects, which have suffered tremendously under the limited water supply. We simply could not bear to see this amazing work being halted, it is essential that these projects continue”.
ISUZU, with a clear vision to establish a foundation for sustainable, long-term business growth in the South African market offered to supply, not only their deep knowledge around the safest and most sustainable way to transport non-potable water to the needed schools, but also manpower to support the demanding requirements of carrying out the daily task of filling and re-filling the school’s non-potable tanks.
JoJo Tanks, the name on many Capetonians lips right now, due to the fact that they are now difficult to find, have also jumped to the aid of SOS stating “Our values focus on providing a better quality of life and this campaign encompasses it completely. The fact that we will be assisting to provide better water security and sanitation for thousands of school children is a goal we strive for”. JoJo tanks will be donating tanks for water storage for all the schools that the campaign reaches and is an invaluable partner to make this campaign happen.
Swish Property Group have partnered with the campaign to assist with the donation of non-potable water which is sourced from the Woodstock Quarter development. “The basement of the development is below the water table so there is a constant flow of water being pumped out and we wanted to assist this essential campaign, in delivering this water to the schools in our direct community”.
SOS seems definitely that – saving schools – as they will also be ensuring, via plumbing experts, that the JoJo tanks are connected up properly to the school lavatory blocks to create its own grey water system, so that all toilets can be flushed and hands washed appropriately to ensure a sanitary environment. A water steward will be nominated for each tank and will be responsible for contacting SOS when they require refilling. For those schools who have pools and sports fields, they will be assessed and potentially provided with a separate tank of non-potable water to keep these sports activities operational.
“The SOS campaign will be officially launched on World Water Day at The ClockTower on Thursday 22 March and I invite everyone to come and celebrate with us on this very important day” ends Humphreys.
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