In South Africa’s Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve, the WaterWise Ways project has helped reduce water usage and change behaviours. How? By giving local inhabitants access to simple yet effective methods.
In the semi-arid region of Little Karoo, water scarcity is a constant preoccupation. All the more so because, in South Africa, an estimated 37% of the water supply is lost along the way through leaks in public and private infrastructures (Source: Department of Water & Sanitation 2015).
The stakes for making water usage more efficient in Little Karoo couldn’t be higher for local communities. And this is exactly what the WaterWise Ways project, supported by the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR), hopes to achieve.
How exactly? By helping to change behaviours, increase awareness about water scarcity and climate change, introduce water-efficient technologies and encourage local authorities to adopt positive strategies. Rather than expensive “hard-engineering” solutions, like building new barrages, they privilege more flexible, economical solutions that involve local inhabitants and create jobs. Social enterprise Trapsuutjies Projects recruits the teams locally and implements the project on behalf of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve.
Repairing and sharing
Based on a “Fix and Learn” approach, WaterWise Ways has already employed, trained and mentored 16 inhabitants from 3 towns as “Water Wardens”. Their role is to repair leaks and install water-saving devices, while also educating families about water. To encourage local authorities to adopt this model, all the work carried out is documented to highlight the economic, financial and biophysical advantages.
The impact is already impressive. Between 2018 and 2020, more than 154,000 m3 of water were saved by 1,593 households. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the families have continued to repair their own leaks – demonstrating the project’s positive impact on long-term responsible water usage.
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