Everything prospective volunteers need to know about the water crisis in the city of Cape Town and why Cape Town is still open for volunteering.
The sensation surrounding Cape Town’s water crisis is extraordinary. Media has been both wonderful and detrimental in sharing the latest happenings. But, take our word for it, our African Impact offices and our Cape Town project team are in Cape Town and want to share the facts with you.
The city of Cape Town is suffering the worst drought it’s ever experienced. Why? For three consecutive years, the city has received less than average rainfall which has resulted in low levels of water in the surrounding dams. These dams supply the city with water, and when the levels are low, our city must come together.
There are two kinds of tourists – those who think they shouldn’t visit Cape Town because they won’t have any water and those who won’t visit because they don’t want to take away Cape-Tonian resources. But, rest assured, you don’t affect the water supply as much as you think. International tourists account for just 1% of water usage in Cape Town during peak season. The impact of tourism and even more, volunteer tourism, on water consumption is insignificant compared to the benefit that tourism and volunteers brings to the city and its communities. Despite accounting for a small amount of water consumption, volunteers will still have to live like a local and like on 50 litres of water a day – we’re all doing it, it’s easy!
Let’s bust some of those myths you might have heard.
- The drought is region-specific, meaning that other tourist destinations surrounding Cape Town have not been affected by water restrictions.
- “Day Zero” is not inevitable. It is the hypothetical day when dam levels might fall below 13.5% and Cape Town residents would be restricted to 25 litres of water per day in order to ensure that the dams do not run dry. It is NOT the day that Cape Town runs out of water.
- The date for “Day Zero” has already been pushed back thrice! Hopefully “Day Zero” can be avoided completely, trusting that all stakeholders (including volunteers) stick to their 50litre daily limit.
- Even in the unlikely event of Day Zero, visitors and volunteers will still be able to enjoy the diverse and world-class experiences Cape Town and the Western Cape have to offer, while making a positive impact in communities very much in need of support and assistance from volunteers.
- Although sporadic, it continues to rain in Cape Town. The city is hopeful that winter rains will be sufficient to fill our dams.
- The city of Cape Town is not sitting on its laurels waiting for “Day Zero” – we’re being proactive! A desalination plant at our famous V&A Waterfront is due to come online in March! This plant will be 1 in a network of 8 – producing 108 million litres of fresh water per day.
We don’t mean to romanticise the notion of “we need you now more than ever”, but it’s the reality of our situation. The children in Cape Town’s townships still need the vital education and support our volunteers provide, so it’s time to pack your bags and head to Cape Town because our projects need you – yes, you!