Singing to Save Cape Town


Theewaterskloof Dam, one of Cape Town’s water sources
Photo by SA-Venues.com via Wikimedia Commons

In 2017, Cape Town was going to run out of water. Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland tell about one way the people there worked through the crisis.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

This person is doing something normal. He is singing in the shower! You might do it too, though you may not admit it. Many people sing in the shower. It is something fun to do while you are cleaning yourself. And some people just enjoy it. But some people are singing for a very particular reason. These people live in Cape Town, South Africa. And they are not trying just to enjoy themselves. Instead, they are singing to save their city. Today’s Spotlight is on the Two Minute Shower Songs Campaign in Cape Town.

Voice 2  

Cape Town is one of the largest and oldest cities in South Africa. Part of South Africa’s government is in Cape Town. And many people visit the city as tourists. It is located near the Atlantic Ocean. It is a very beautiful and important place.

Voice 1  

But Cape Town also does not have much water. It is on the ocean. But people cannot drink ocean water because there is too much salt in it. And there are no large rivers near the city. The area is very dry.

Voice 2  

To solve this problem, the people of South Africa blocked the flow of water with dams. Instead of flowing away, the water gathered in one place. This created several small lakes. Cape Town gets its water from these lakes. As long as they are full, people have enough to survive. They can use water without thinking about how much they are using.

Voice 1  

But in 2015, there was a drought in South Africa. This period of dry weather dried up a lot of water. And the lakes did not fill up again. Then in 2016, a second drought came. There were also droughts in 2017 and 2018. The lakes had very little water. By 2017 the people of Cape Town understood that this was an emergency. The government restricted water use for all homes. The situation was very bad. During the worst part of the drought, the government restricted each person to 60 litres of water a day. Most people use more than this taking a ten minute shower!

Voice 2  

But the government of Cape Town could not force people to use less water. Instead, they had to persuade the citizens that it was the right thing to do. Cape Town used many different methods to change peoples’ minds. They gave fines to people who used too much water. They held competitions, showing which neighbourhood used less water. And they used a lot of advertising to reach people.

Voice 1  

One advertisement came from a business called the King James Group. An insurance company called Sanlam paid for the advertisement. Susan van Rooyen and Moe Kekana work for the King James Group. They wanted to inform the public about saving water. But normal methods did not seem effective. So van Rooyen and Kekana thought of a better way. They started thinking about showers.

Voice 2

To some people, a shower might not seem like it uses much water. But a ten minute shower can use up to 190 litres! The city government was asking people to take showers that only lasted two minutes. Van Rooyen and Kekana decided to help people understand exactly how much time that was. They would not do this by putting up a big billboard. Instead, they would help people through song.

Voice 1  

Van Rooyen and Kekana sent out a request to different South African music artists. These artists played all different kinds of music. Some, like Desmond and the Tutus, play Rock music. Others, like Youngsta, record rap music. But Van Rooyen and Kekana gave them all the same request. They asked these artists to record their most popular songs again. But these new recordings would all be under two minutes long.

Voice 2  

The idea was simple. Many people already sing in the shower. A two minute song would help people understand how long their showers were. People could make sure they were done washing in two minutes. And they could have fun doing it too! Van Rooyen thought this idea is better than traditional advertising. She told the news website Quartz Africa:

Voice 3  

“People do not like advertisements that make them afraid, like the warnings on cigarette packs. They want to rebel against them. If you give them a tool that is already part of their daily life, it is much easier for them.”

Voice 1  

In the end, ten different artists recorded two minute songs. Van Rooyen and Kekana created an album of these songs in only two weeks. They released the whole album for free in November of 2017. The King James Group also created a website called twominuteshowersongs.com. All of the two minute songs are available there. The website also tells visitors other ways to save water. It tells people how to use the songs. It says:

Voice 2  

1 - Start the song and turn up the volume.
2 - Get into the shower and start singing along.
3 - Switch off the shower when you soap up.
4 - When the song ends, so should your shower.

Voice 1  

The two minute shower songs campaign was a great success. The worst of the crisis ended in November of 2018. There were strong rains that winter. And the lakes filled to a safer level. Cape Town still restricts water usage. But the city will not run out of water. It may experience another crisis. But now people know what to do in times of water shortage. They have resources like the two minute shower songs. And they have a culture that is willing to save water. Hellen Zille is the Premier of the Western Cape. She told the news organization Deutsche Welle:

Voice 4  

“I cannot think of any country that has reversed a crisis like this so quickly. In fact, there is no water crisis. But we must continue the water-saving behaviour. We cannot relax and use water like we did before. Climate scientists say the weather is now more difficult to predict. And we do not know when there will be another drought. Saving water has become our greatest priority.”

Voice 2  

Have you ever had to save water? What creative methods would you use? What songs would you like to hear made into two minute shower songs? You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Dan Christmann. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Singing to Save Cape Town’.

Voice 2  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android or Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever had to conserve, or save, water? What is the best method to use less water?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
bamfg
said on May 13, 2019

Great idea. All countries should limit the use of pure water, to stop wasting it.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on May 13, 2019

I will remember that the existent water in the world is ever the same. The water will never disappear off the face of the earth. The problem is another and involves treated water. Governments must do their jobs and built pieces of equipment for treating water to attend sufficiently their population and, in the same time, protected the soil and forests to preserve creeks and rivers where we can obtain water for treatment stations.
A shower during only two minutes isn’t a shower, and there’s no song which changes this fact.