“Day Zero.” It sounds like the title of a post-apocalyptic novel on the best-sellers list. But for Cape Town, South Africa, it is a harsh reality.
The term, “Day Zero” refers to the day when the city will officially run out of water due to the three-year drought. It’s the day they’ll have to turn off their taps for good. Fortunately, due to water conservation efforts by Cape Town’s citizens, the date has been pushed back from April 12 to July 9.
However, for the people of Cape Town, Day Zero looms overhead like a ticking time bomb. If they cannot make it to the country’s winter rainy season, Cape Town will be the first major city to run out of water.
Cape Town is the second-largest city in South Africa. And if it is struggling, imagine what it’s like for small villages that don’t have the major resources of a big city.
Around the world, one person out of every 10 doesn’t have access to clean water.
In Cape Town, droughts have claimed natural water sources. But in many regions, it’s contamination, long, treacherous journeys, or poverty that stand between people and access to clean water.
The global water crisis is hardly ever mentioned on the evening news or in the newspaper. But coverage of Cape Town’s countdown to Day Zero has given the world a glimpse of what it’s like to live on a few small containers of water per day.
Yes, clean drinking water is vital for physical health. But also, without water, cooking becomes much more difficult. You can’t wash clothes. You can’t bathe your children. You can’t irrigate your crops or sustain your livestock.
Water is life.
Even if people living in developing countries are able to collect water, it is usually contaminated with bacteria, animal waste, and trash.
Cities like Cape Town might be in the danger zone for Day Zero. But villages and communities around the world have been at Day Zero for decades.
Families have been broken apart due to lack of clean water — babies often don’t live to see their first birthday because of waterborne diseases. New moms struggle to balance their responsibilities of caring for their children and walking up to six hours a day to collect water. Fathers’ crops wither in the sun when the closest well is miles away, and they cannot provide for their families or help them escape poverty.
And just like Cape Town is fighting to push back Day Zero, you can help fight for the communities that have been struggling without water for far too long.
You can make sure that a family doesn’t have to suffer sickness and pain due to disease-riddled water. You can make sure a child has the energy and time to attend school. You can ensure safety for a woman who used to have to walk miles along a dangerous path to collect water.
You can change a life. And it all begins with the gift of clean water.