Cape Town water activist Nokuzola Bulana says water management devices are not the way to solve water waste and debt for the poor. Credit: Brendon Bosworth/IPS.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, May 23 2013 (IPS) – Nokuzola Bulana has a problem with leaks. The water that drips from the pipes of the toilet outside her home in Khayelitsha, a large semi-informal township on the fringes of Cape Town, South Africa goes to waste and drives up her water bill.
Bulana, a water activist, says she fixed the leaks in January but water on the floor at the base of the toilet, which is inside a stall painted with pink, yellow and purple stripes, and pooled on the ground outside the stall, shows that seepages persist.
In March, her eight-person home used over seven times the amount of water the city of Cape Town gives indigent households for free in a month. Bulana blames the leaks for this.
“We don’t mind to pay for the water we drink or cook with but now the water goes down the drain,” Bulana tells IPS when interviewed at her home. “I love the environment. I want to look after the water.”
Bulana is one of many South Africans whose wasted water contributes to the country’s yearly loss of more than a third of its water – a shortfall driven chiefly by leaks, according to a 2012 report from the South African Water Research Commission. These losses cost municipalities more than 731 million dollars annually and drive poor citizens into debt they often cannot afford to pay.
South Africa is also the 30th driest country in the world and could hit water shortages as early as 2025. It can scarcely afford to squander this resource.
Read the rest of my story at Inter Press Service.
I learned a new word recently. Swale: a ditch on a contour which catches run-off. As an assistant team leader at Greenpop’s Reforest Festival over the weekend one of my job’s included inspecting swales to make sure they were up to scratch. I might also have been responsible for some very poor jokes (“swale of a time,” “swale watching,” “who supports swaling?”) but I’m kind of a geek when it comes to new words.
The festivalgoers planted 3,000 trees at Platbos Forest, which is the southernmost indigenous forest on the continent, on Saturday. We dug holes, shaped swales, and got our hands dirty. The new trees will help stave off the threat of encroaching alien vegetation and keep the forest growing strong.
I was glad to be part of it.
The simple act of walking is a salve. It helps me stop thinking about the job, the money (lack thereof) and what’s next. I enjoy shelving my daily thoughts and focusing on physicality for a few hours.
Walking the paths that cut into the peaks above Kalk Bay and Muizenberg gives me the time I need to do this.
Lately, the proteas have been out and the winds have been quiet. High up in the rocks, looking over the Indian Ocean, a person feels calm. And that’s all I’m after most of the time.
Here are some shots from my recent constitutionals.
Looking onto Muizenberg from Peck’s Valley.
Protea shows its colours
Looking toward Simon’s Town. Someone tagged this pole.
View from a peak above Boyes Drive.
In the face of rampant rhino poaching in South Africa, some conservationists and private rhino farmers are lobbying for removal of the international ban on rhino horn trading and the creation of a legal market to quell poaching.
My latest article for Inter Press Service News delves into the arguments for and against creating a legal trade.
Here’s an excerpt:
The trade ban is creating a situation where rhinos are being killed unnecessarily,” Duan Biggs, research fellow at the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at Australia’s University of Queensland, told IPS. “It’s taking resources away from other conservation efforts, and is leading to the situation where there’s a pseudo war taking place in the Kruger National Park.”
The South African government is exploring this option and could make a proposal at the 2016 Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to allow it to open up rhino horn sales. That would require support from a two-thirds majority of the 178 member states.
Proposals to lift the ban, which has been in place since 1977, have sparked debate about whether a legal market would actually curb poaching. Opponents worry that it would stimulate the black market trade that exists in parts of Asia, where rhino horn sells for 65,000 dollars a kilogramme – more than gold or cocaine – and is touted as a cure for hangovers and an aphrodisiac in countries like Vietnam.
But advocates say it would be the solution to the poaching crisis.
Full article at IPS News and also republished at The Guardian.
Image: white rhino from TomFawls via wikimedia.