Jonny, of our Africa team, recently returned from the city and reported the transformation that has occurred in the last couple of months:
‘I found the city an inspiration. Cape Town’s residents drastically changed their water consumption and the city is now carrying on with life as normal. I spoke to locals from taxi drivers to vineyard owners — there’s a real feeling of everyone pulling together to preserve this precious resource. And, together, they’re achieving it.’
Saving water in Cape Town was first and foremost about education and thinking critically about the different ways it could be used more efficiently. The citizens of Cape Town implemented a basic water-saving scheme. This included everyday solutions such as taking shorter showers, forgoing baths, washing laundry only when necessary, turning off the tap while brushing teeth and re-using grey water. Implemented on an individual basis, these measures reduced water consumption by 60%.
Local businesses, in particular restaurateurs, lead the way, devising creative water-saving solutions which helped to keep both locals and visitors mindful of the shortage.
The Test Kitchen, winner of Best Restaurant in Africa at The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards, reacted to the drought with various innovations including an in-house pop-up project called the Drought Kitchen. The temporary, tablecloth-free dining experience served food in ‘frames’ backed by a piece of disposable cardboard (no dishwashing required). It also used disposable napkins and recycled ice-bucket water to mop the floors.
One of our South Africa specialists, Mike, recently returned from Cape Town and found a similar proactive approach at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen. The bar designed an ice-free chilling method, so its customers were able to enjoy their drinks guilt free. A culmination of these small efforts has made Cape Town the first city in the world to reduce their water usage so dramatically in this short a period of time.
Other pop-ups around the city sponsored plateless meals. This meant anything from using lettuce wraps or biodegradable dishware instead of washable crockery to designing menus that avoided boiling or steaming ingredients.
A natural surplus
Not only have the residents of Cape Town found creative solutions, but nature has helped, raising dam levels. Rain has fallen more frequently in the last few months and dam levels have risen by over 20%. The dreaded Day Zero, when the city was predicted to run out of water, has been called off for both 2018 and 2019 — amazing news for the city.
Cape Town has once again proven that it is a resilient city with a solution-oriented attitude. South Africa specialist Hailey comments that; ‘at this point visitors to Cape Town will not notice the impact of the drought.’
Instead visitors will find a vibrant city rich with culture, laughter, and great food no longer served in picture frames (unless of course you would prefer it). Just as South Africa’s national anthem says, ‘Sounds the call to come together, and united we shall stand,’ so, too, does the city of Cape Town live with the capability to pull together and come out on top.
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