One former South African expat – Steven Underwood – has taken it upon himself to reassure Capetonians that rather than cave into the fear of Armageddon-like visions of Day Zero looming, there’s a bright side to look forward to…

Writing on Facebook yesterday, Steven – who used to live in Botswana – said: “As Cape Town hits level 6b water restrictions, I thought I would share a few observations from my time in drought-affected Gaborone, where we reached Day Zero (empty taps) many times during my 4 years there…”

Steven then listed the following nine points:

  1. You will not die.
  2. Yes, you will suffer a little but what’s wrong with a little suffering? It builds character.
  3. Businesses and schools will not shut down (as some suggest) but will have to adapt to using grey water for ablutions. It’s a mind-set change, don’t give up, persevere and keep adding value to the economy (not to minimise the plight of businesses that need fresh water for their product, they will really struggle).
  4. Water is a renewable resource and therefore 25 litres goes a long way. Water for washing can be caught and reused for ablutions. It’s not very nice (see point 2) but once again it’s a mindset.
  5. It’s not the ANC/DA’S fault nor climate change. It’s my fault because I use too much water (i.e. more than supply), which is great because I don’t have to rely on government or scientists to fix it, I just have to use less water.
  6. Help will come in some form. Businesses will spring up delivering water (in Gabs it was 2 JoJo tanks on a flatbed truck), desalination boats will flock to our harbours (if they don’t exist then then a millionaire genius will quickly invent and build one). Water may even come from the sky but somehow we will change the game for the better.
  7. You will learn to appreciate water and take joy in the little things. One time, while driving to visit a friend in Phikwe, the heavens opened on road just past Palapye. The driver in front of me pulled to the side of the road and started dancing in the rain, what a beautiful feeling.
  8. Stay positive. With the right mindset, the water crisis can actually be fun. You will spend more time outdoors, you will connect with your neighbours, you will receive help and help others, you will waste less time on Facebook/TV and you will have great stories to tell.
  9. It could be worse. Water crisis is far better than being subjected to apartheid (like what happened to my brothers and sisters) or fighting a war (like what happened to my Grandparents), we will come through it stronger and better.

See Steven Underwood’s original post here.


  1. For those Capetonians living on the coast, utilise sea water as much as you can, because at least plenty to go round. From the Bushveldt, I remember enjoying virtually alfresco showers on friends’ game farm. The shower was an attractive reed structure in the garden, a 44 gallon water drum resting on a steel frame, to the side of the shower structure, half hidden by the leaves of an acacia tree, so not unsightly in such natural surroundings. I remember the host pumped river water into the shower drum, which the sun warmed during the day. When drought hit once or twice and water at a premium, we’d quickly wet and and turn off the shower, use soap sparingly, (had no gels then) wash and then turn on the shower, quickly rinse and turn it off. I know this may probably sound like as simple suggestion, maybe not so suited to the Cape, but its summer now, and to rig up such an outdoor shower is relatively simple and need not be costly.

    Where people are close to the ocean, fill the drum (could be a small Jo-Jo) with sea water– yes, you’d need a few containers to cart the water home– but worth it for a good shower! Even inland, such a brief, water saving shower, would save on daily water quotas.

    Another idea, which I have not come across in SA yet, but which is common in India, is the use of mini geysers, which are normally installed in flats or community dwellings, where people each require their own geyser. From memory, the geyser size was 20-25 litres and could remain switched off until required, as switched on, it takes only 15 minutes to heat up.

    The beauty is that, when turning on the water, it remained on for approximately 10 minutes, then shut off automatically, providing sufficient time to adjust the temp of the water and perform ablutions, when again water returned automatically for about 10 minutes– all in all, sufficient time for a comfortable shower. This mini-geyser, obviously operates on a time switch and in India, where both water and electricity is at a premium, it saves on both– while very important too– it saves on monthly electricity bills.

    These mini-geysers may very well already be in use in SA, but even if the idea is not new here, it could assist, not only the current water crisis, but in flats and apartment buildings, become permanent fixtures, as the geysers are robust and cost saving all round– including saving on space. Below is a link to a picture of the mini geysers:

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