Next week NACSO officially launches its new site with partners, friends and the media. In the meantime, you are welcome to preview the site and read this week’s story on water under Read more. We believe that the interface is clearer than the vintage home page you have been used to, but any web site is always a work in progress. Please enjoy it, and send any comments and suggestions for improvements to Siphiwe Lutibezi: email@example.com
Aliens in Botanical Gardens
With so many problems facing Africa, some people wonder why Capetonians get excited about invasive alien plant species. But the Cape is beautiful, and the locals can be excused for wanting it to remain unspoilt, natural and, as far as possible – authentic. Which is one reason to remove alien plant species. Another reason is water. The Cape’s naturally occurring vegetation uses little water, and the liquid of life is scarce in southern Africa.
WWF South Africa has run a campaign called the Journey of Water, in which people walked the distances that water runs from the mountains before emerging from rivers into city taps. The idea was to make people aware that water is a precious resource. The Cape Town WWF team also took part in a World Wildlife Fund communications meeting in the city last week, which included WWF staff from other Africa offices.
The team took a break to visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, where, rest-assured, the only aliens were Japanese in face masks and WWF exotic species from Kenya to Cameroon, including Janet Mukoko, who was astonished to hear that the Cape has water problems.
But then, most people would imagine that Cameroon, with its dense forests, is also not short of water. Janet lives at the foot of Mount Cameroon, and she describes the problem in her area, where streams are drying up. Wealthy farmers can dig boreholes, but poorer people rely on dwindling streams, which are increasingly polluted, leading to water borne diseases. Climate change is real in Cameroon. Janet is passionate about the need to change our behaviour, and she wrote a poem on the issue for Earth Hour, a time when we think about the limits to the earth’s resources.
Namibian Siphiwe Lutibezi was excited to visit Kirstenbosch. She’s an environmental biologist by training, and was most interested in the Water Wise Garden, which explained how to keep a garden green, using easy steps. Much of it seems obvious when you think about it: grow plants that need little water, and keep the succulents and others that need very little apart from those that need more. The Botanical Gardens also has an arid area, where the desert plants of Namibia thrive on little more than sunshine.
Outside of the glasshouse, clouds wraith the mountaintop. In the Cape it can rain almost any time, but this July, the hottest on record worldwide, the rains have been poor. Dams are low. For Namibians it is a familiar story, but one that is increasingly common in the rest of Africa, and in a world facing climate change.
WWF South Africa’s water message is simple: use less. We should all follow it.