‘Thousands have lived without love, not one without water’

  • September 7, 2018

The title – a quote by English-American poet W.H. Auden – is the opening scene of the 2008 documentary film, Flow: For Love of Water.

Directed by Irena Salina, the film discusses about world water crisis and how, every year, millions of people die from water-borne diseases worldwide. This catastrophe, which was earlier considered to be restricted to rural, poverty-stricken regions of the world is now streaming its way to the ‘well-planned’ urban dwellings as well; case in point – Cape Town, South Africa.


A looming catastrophe

Is it possible for an entire city to completely run out of water? It is! When most (read 99%) of the water needs of the city are met by dams fed by rainwater. As a consequence of global warming and climate change, Cape Town, in 2015, saw the beginning of a devastating three-year-drought unlike anything the city had seen in more than a century.

Its main water supply – the Theewaterskloof dam – saw a major drought after the city experienced less than average level of rainfalls – the driest monsoon that the country had witnessed in a decade.

In early 2018, the authorities warned of ‘Day Zero’ – a day when municipal water supply would be shut off if a particular lower limit of water supply was reached, primarily affecting the city of Cape Town.

Day Zero’ averted – for now

Friday, the 13th of April, 2018, was the tentative day, as per the officials, when the trauma was to hit the city.

As ‘D-Day’ approached, the city taps ran dry and people were forced to fetch water from scattered points of collection. And that too ‘rationed’ water i.e. pre-determined quantity of 50 litres for carrying out all their chores – bathing, washing, laundry, dishes and drinking.

The condition was not permanent and was corrected once the city was blessed with winter rains, with dam levels increasing to 48% of the capacity. However, the situation is worrying and will return to haunt, not just South Africa, but the world at large, if we don’t adopt water conservation as a way of life.


The first signs of alarm

This ‘Day-Zero’ is just another day in the lives of millions of people. Imagine living under the constant stress of not having ‘enough’ water to live your lives comfortably. The time, labour and pains that one would have to take to fetch meagre quantities of water would be far greater than the efforts we would have to make to wisely use water and recycle it.

People will earn less, may even put their savings and jobs at risk to get water, then will get even more frustrated with the petty maths of how much water to spend where. This cribbing may even cause family bickering and squabble. The daily accumulation of frustration will act as a trigger to pick up fights at the slightest spark. The community, and then the entire city, would be under the grave threat of getting engulfed in civil unrest.


A world without water

Do you know why earth is considered a living planet? Because of the water that flows through it. Water runs through its veins just like blood in the human body.

In many parts of the world, water is worshipped for it sustains life.

We have conflicts going on in the world because of pricing of oil. The world is running out of fresh water and the possibility of a third world war over water is increasing with time.

This may sound like an exaggeration today but if the need arises, one day, people would give all the wealth they have for ‘clean, fresh water.’

(For reading the complete article, subscribe to The Times of Africa on Magzter https://www.magzter.com/IN/Times-Of-Africa/The-Times-Of-Africa/)

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