5 volunteer questions about the Water Crisis in South Africa

With all the noise that’s being created about South Africa’s current water crisis, you are probably asking yourself whether it’s still a good idea to plan your volunteer trip abroad.

The good news is that you most certainly can, but before checking out our awesome projects, we would like to shed some light on what is actually going on with the water crisis.

We have been asked by our prospective volunteers about how the crisis might affect their trip. Here is some info we gave them on which areas in South Africa are seriously affected, and also how we at Khaya do our best to save water!

water crisis volunteering

1. Which cities in South Africa are affected by the drought?

South Africa’s Western Cape region has been experiencing drought for a long period of time.  This has brought about heavy water restrictions, especially for people living in the “Mother City” of Cape Town – South Africa’s premier tourist city.  

Cape Town might be the first choice for visitors when planning a trip to South Africa, but because of the City’s current water situation you might have to think twice before traveling.  Nonetheless, if you plan to volunteer in Port Elizabeth, you can still visit Cape Town for a weekend and explore the city’s breath-taking views and great cultural experience.  

Refer to this article that speaks about Cape Town and Port Elizabeth as volunteer destinations, which will show you that Port Elizabeth, like Cape Town, is a top choice!  Cape Town only forms one part of your journey to Africa, with more than enough other places to see and things to do.    

2. Is it advisable to travel to other cities within South Africa?

Many South Africans have tried to adapt and live on very little water every day - and have made it work for them. Thankfully, the rest of South Africa outside of Cape Town is not as heavily affected as that area.

Khaya’s home city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape is still relatively fine, although it's always good to be conscious of not wasting water. The impact on tourists and volunteer projects in these areas is much less.

save water south africa

3. What does Day Zero mean for Cape Town, and how are tourists or volunteers affected?

Day Zero refers to a specific date when the city will cut off the flow of regular water.  This date varies depending on the amount of rainfall within the area, as well as the water usage by the residents in the City. 

If you are a tourist and visiting Cape Town, there will be enough for basic needs like drinking water, toilet usage and hygiene. Tourists are also advised to take a shower of no longer than 2 minutes and taking a bath is not recommended. All major emergency services will still be available. 

With all this being said, Cape Town is still a great place to explore, with many of the backpacking and volunteer organisations adapting to water restrictions in a way that will enable visitors to still visit the Mother City. 

4. What is the situation like for Khaya volunteers in Port Elizabeth?

Now that we've established that you can still travel to South Africa, and that you won't be so severely affected by water restrictions in other major cities as you would be in Cape Town, at Khaya we still believe in saving water!

Africa is generally a water-scarce continent.  At our Beach House we use a borehole water system, which is not part of the municipal water supply.  A borehole system is ground water that when found in large quantities, can be drilled or pumped out.  A common question asked is borehole water safe to drink and the answer to that is YES, it is, most bottled and spring water is pumped from a borehole. 

khaya pool volunteer

5. What are some benefits of a borehole water system?

  • We save potable water
  • Groundwater used for irrigation of gardens and topping up of swimming pools is currently free and not regulated.
  • Water savings immediately and in the future – the installation pays for itself after a year or two 

So as you can see, Port Elizabeth is still very much open for business.   We have awesome volunteer projects that you can choose from.  The travel opportunities we offer over weekends or with partners allows you to embrace Africa and experience it to the full! 

Sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated with what is happening here in Port Elizabeth. 

Watch this video and experience Port Elizabeth right now from wherever you are. 

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