It took a South African retail giant to remind me that we are in the midst of the worst drought in over 30 years.
Until that point, I was not affected by the drought except to remember the days on which I could legally water my garden. I would buy fruit and vegetables to enjoy at home, and if something I bought did not meet my expectations, it was returned. Until my wake up call.
‘Sorry, some of our fruit and vegetables are not up to our usual standard.’ This is how Pick n Pay’s sign in their fresh produce department starts. Not only have they continued to support the farmers who so desperately need the leeway to provide whatever they can to retailers, but they reminded me that there actually is a real crisis and one small way I can help is by supporting our farmers too.
The World Bank estimates that about 50 000 people have been pushed below the national poverty line of R501 by the effects of El Nino in South Africa.
I turn on the taps in my home and out pours fresh, clean water. I even bath and shower in potable water. When you think about the number of people who walk miles to find water that is safe to drink and then have to carry it home, I live a life of almost unbelievable luxury. Suzelle DIY and Helen Zille have made a humerous Youtube video ‘How to be water wise, guys’ in which they share their best tips for saving this precious resource. According to the video, the average South African uses 250 litres of water a day and by implementing just a few of their tips you can really bring your numbers down. As Suzelle mentions, you can use a bucket in the shower to catch the water that would otherwise go down the drain while you wait for the right temperature, and as Helen suggests — succinct as usual — ‘save water by showering with a friend.’
The government announced recently that it had set aside R300m rand to assist commercial farmers, who have criticised them for their slow response. The prospect of rainfall increases as we move towards the wet season in the Western Cape, but with weather patterns changing constantly and El Nino causing havoc, even that can’t be relied upon. Experts warn that this may not be the last dry spell and the country’s farmers face uncertain times. Since food and water security affect us all, it behooves us to take this seriously.
So, what can you do to be part of the solution? Buy from retailers who support drought-stricken farmers, excuse the quality in the few cases you feel your purchase isn’t up to scratch and treat water as the most precious resource you have — because next to the air you breathe, it is.