Open up dialogue on water

2018-02-20 14:52

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Community could hold the key to facing Cape Town’s looming water crisis.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) this is the best time to connect, coordinate and organise your community in preparation for Day Zero, the day when water to taps will be shut off.

And this month’s Open Streets will provide the opportunities for communities to start a conversation about saving water.

On Sunday 25 February, residents are invited to use Main Road to carry out a giant indaba on the street. The event will take place on the M4 through Observatory, Salt River, Woodstock and District Six.

The street as car-free public space can be a powerful platform for troubleshooting, problem solving and building solidarity, says Open Streets Cape Town managing director Marcela Guerrero Casas

“At Open Streets Main Road, we can use this environment to exchange ideas and questions that can empower us all to navigate the difficulties of the water crisis,” she says. 

“We are inviting everyone to join a street conversation about water. This can be in the form of an activity, a showcase or simply a discussion.”

According the WWF, which has been releasing Water Files ahead of Day Zero to educate Capetonians and help them prepare, the crisis can help to strengthen society.

“As a community, we will need strong arms, time, DIY, organising skills, and good communication skills to see us through a period of extremely limited water supplies,” the organisation says in the latest Water File.

“One of the biggest misnomers about this water crisis is that by having high walls and stockpiling resources we will somehow shield ourselves from the turmoil brought on by water scarcity. These resources alone won’t get us through the crisis. We need access to other resources to collectively save as much water as possible and to cope with a situation in which we have to live with extremely limited water supplies.”

The Water Files suggest looking at what you may have to offer to your community, in terms of helping yourself and others to cope with less water.

“Perhaps you are able to fix leaks or solve plumbing/ borehole problems; are able to offer transport to alternate sources of water or distribution points; have strong people to help lifting water containers when water’s no longer available on tap; time to organise solutions in the home or school; access to communication groups to coordinate quick responses; or money to donate to people with little or no income who are struggling to fix leaks and save water. Everyone in a community has something to offer and the ability to create a shared solution to the crisis.”

Guerrero Casas adds: “One of the big fissures that has become apparent during this period is the distance between our local government leaders and citizens. Thus, engagement between citizens and authorities is also crucial and this will be a unique opportunity to create a conducive environment for that. 

“In a city like Cape Town, where divisions run deep, we need to start by creating the type of spaces that encourage and nourish solidarity. Open Streets has successfully created this in the past. Let’s maximise it!”


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