19 Dec
The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

Water is life, but for over 30% of the world’s population, it is the source of hardship, sickness and death.

Over 1 000 children die every single day simply for lack of access to clean water. Millions of women and girls are denied the opportunity of access to education because their day is dominated by fetching and carrying water for their families.

Unfortunately, this is not the only cause for concern. An increasing percentage of the world’s population now live in water-scarce communities. Drought and population growth are combining to create a perfect storm.

Our own history has largely been forged by water scarcity. During the 17th century the Portuguese brought maize to southern Africa, which sparked exponential population growth. The subsequent pressure this put on to water resources became fatally apparent in the early 19th century as a 10-year drought struck the region. This water-scarcity crisis is widely accepted as the catalyst for the rise and militarisation of the Zulu nation under King Shaka and the mass displacement and killings of other ethnic groups.

From our 21st century perspective we see these problems as existing in a different time or place. The reality, however, is that the line between scarcity and access is paper-thin and the infrastructure upon which we have grown so dependent can easily perish through civil unrest, natural calamity or political indifference.

I have always been impressed by the independent mindset of most of the South Africans I have met, but I find it strange that in this regard – in something so fundamental to life – so few are taking the steps necessary to secure their water future.

If you are serious about doing something to avoid becoming negatively affected by water scarcity or uncleanliness, then here are three steps you need to take.


Collection & Storage

For most people, rainwater will be the simplest and cheapest form of water harvesting. For a few, boreholes and streams may be available for this purpose. Always act within the law when tapping into one of these resources. Remember that the quality of water is liable to change due to factors beyond your control. Use BPA-free storage containers and ensure you have adequate and preferably automatic disinfection to prevent build-up of biofilms that can clog your filtration system and water reticulation.


Filtration & Purification

Multiple threats exist that compromise the quality of your harvested water. As such, multiple filters are required to eliminate these risks. Filters must be regularly checked and changed as required to ensure your water is contaminant-free.


Efficiency & Consciousness

When you begin to collect and purify your own water, you soon learn its true value. Conserving this precious resource is often a matter of lifestyle and habit, both of which should be assessed regularly. There are, however, some great technologies that can assist you in this effort. You could, for instance, be collecting your grey water and using it to flush toilets, planting a water-wise garden, or even consider getting a composting toilet.


Through his team at AdRenewables, Sebastian Brogan is designing and installing water harvesting and purification systems that can help people gain a higher level of independence. AdRenewables have also developed chemical-free grey water processing systems and can offer a range of water-efficient technological innovations to help reduce your water use.


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