A call to action on Water

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Theewaterskloof dam The Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN

As we enter the month of June, our biggest prayer is for rain. The Western Cape is facing an unprecedented drought, a situation that is not unfamiliar in Southern Africa, but still shows how unprepared as a society we are to manage our water resources respectfully and with great care.

Robert Traydon imagines what would happen when the day arrives when we open our taps and no more water comes out. An outline that perhaps reads like a fiction story or movie to us at the moment, it isn’t something we would want to put to the test either.

However it isn’t doom and gloom that we want to share with you, but the message of agency and hope. As Earth Keepers it is part of our task to look for the possibilities and the course of action we can take in the face of crises like these.

Individually and collectively we can take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate our relationship with and treatment of water and commit ourselves to changing the way we consume this precious resource, whether we live in a drought-stricken area or not.

water use by activityAwareness is our biggest ally in this. UCT has created an app that helps households to track their water consumption and the table on the left that shows how much water each household activity approximately consumes.

The city of Cape Town has also shared water saving tips and by talking to our colleagues, families, friends and faith communities, we can share and learn new things about saving water. An important part of keeping this conversation going is to also keep encouraging each other – making a change becomes easier if we collectively support each other in these actions.

Making a change however not only pertains to our household consumption of water, but also to our consumer choices. Large-scale agriculture, especially factory farming, accounts for 60% of water usage in South Africa. Join the Green Monday community or make your own commitments to eating less animal products to reduce your water footprint.

As we keep water in our thoughts and rain in our prayers, we would like to leave you with this poem:


No odor doth thou release to nose Nor color to the eye No savor to the thirsting tongue Now I think that I know why Repeated drops a canyon carves And labyrinths of caves Reflecting all when stillness reigns Or pounding rock to sand with waves Two hydrogen they say you have Is not that the composition of the Sun? One oxygen combined with these With the breath of Life you’re one So mix the spirit fire With the mind of air And you get this substance To which nothing can compare Cycling through all nature Ocean, clouds and rain Flowing in all bloodstreams Over chemistry supreme you reign You purify and crystallize With no seeming effort in your task No life exists without you But never thanks you ask Merely streaming on your way Without a backward glance Nurturing at every turn All being you enhance Mother I might call you For all that thou dost give Or Water, as your common name I thank you that I live

- Warren King -