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Globally, 844 million people lack access to clean, easily accessible water. Without it, families and communities will be locked in poverty for generations. In recent times South Africa has been experiencing high levels of drought; particularly in the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape. Furthermore; increased heat levels have also resulted in a reduction in dam levels affecting other provinces including Gauteng. To respond to the problems of water scarcity in our country, Vodacom has implemented the following initiatives in communities:
- In this financial year, Vodacom Foundation, through its Disaster Relief Fund, spent close to R7 million on drilling for boreholes, installing Jojo water tanks and refilling these with drinkable water in 85 schools and teacher centres in the following provinces:
- Eastern Cape
- North West
- Northern Cape
- Free State
- At the Divhani Community Crèche, Vodacom upgraded the infrastructure, eradicated the pit latrines and replaced them with appropriate sanitation and a borehole for sustainable water supply
- In 2019, Vodacom eradicated pit latrines replacing them with appropriate sanitation and a borehole for sustainable water supply at Hlahlindlela High School in Hillcrest in KwaZulu Natal
- In 2018, in response to the water shortages experienced in the Western and Eastern Cape, the Vodacom Foundation spent R6 million on alleviating water shortages in schools. A total number of 165 159 bottles of water were delivered to more than 90 Vodacom supported schools in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces
- Our digital platform Thetha Nathi/ My Ekurhuleni/ Sikuncede Njani /Satise Silalele (loosely translated as talk to us - we are listening) facilitates engagements between citizens and the municipality, enabling citizens to report any water issues related to leakages from burst pipes
Vodacom has also implemented the following initiatives to reduce water consumption in its buildings:
- A borehole was reinstated reducing municipal water supply to approximately 400 kl/month
- Wash basin taps have been equipped with short cycle aerators to reduce the flow of water in bathrooms
- Regular staff awareness campaigns, including consumption stats, were communicated to occupants and have thus rendered positive behavioural changes
- The HVAC load was transferred from an evaporative system to an air-cooled system resulting in water savings
- Installed smart water meters to assess excessive use of water by sending alarms when there is any excessive use of water on campus
- Rainwater harvesting (harvesting of rainwater which is then reused)
- Plumbed installation of in-line water filtration, reducing the need for water cooling stations and plastic cups
- In 2019, Vodacom invested more than R2 million in water-saving measures saving close to 2 000 kilolitres of water at our office buildings
Together we as a society can reduce water consumption by applying the following water savings tips:
- Take shorter showers instead of soaking in a tub
- Install a low-flow showerhead
- Only boil the necessary amount of water needed in a kettle
- Collect rainwater for reuse in washing, cleaning and watering gardens
- Plant drought-resistant indigenous plants
- Check for leaks in toilets and alert a plumber immediately
- Store the number of your local municipality on your mobile and report water leaks immediately
- Waste less in every facet of your life – it’s good for the environment and good for your pocket too!
In conclusion, while it is important to save water for the benefit of the environment, in times like these, we should remember to use water to wash our hands and practice hygiene in ways that prevent the spread of disease.
This article was written by Lungile Manzini, the executive head of sustainability at Vodacom.