The map beyond the tap

Walkers on the 85km journey that tracked Cape Town’s water source from the Berg River. (Trevor Ball)

Walkers on the 85km journey that tracked Cape Town’s water source from the Berg River. (Trevor Ball)

Amid growing concerns around water security, the Journey of Water campaign creates awareness about important water sources and their conservation.

“Many South Africans turn on a tap and get good quality drinking water, and because our needs are met we tend not to think about where the water has come from and the journey it has taken to reach us,” says Sindiswa Nobula, communications manager of corporate partnerships at WWF-South Africa.

“We also forget that this is a country with water scarcity issues and that 98% of our water has already been allocated.”

WWF-South Africa partnered with Sanlam to research and conceptualise the campaign. Nearly 30 other partners and sponsors joined in to build an informed, active citizenship around water efficiency and management.

“It is an open source campaign that the government, business and civil society have taken ownership of. Everyone brought their ideas and resources to the table,” Nobula says.

The rollout includes a website, mobisite, television advertising, reading materials and in-store activations across the country.

Research undertaken by WWF in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research mapped out the country’s strategic water source areas. This showed that only 8% of the land area in South Africa generates more than half of the river flow, with source areas in Lesotho and Swaziland holding another 4%.

“We aim to reconnect people to the real source of our water – nature,” says Nobula. “By highlighting the role that catchments play in providing water, we envision a society where we all understand where our water comes from and how we can better manage this natural resource.”

Celebrities joined technical experts on an 85km Journey of Water walk that tracked Cape Town’s water source from the Berg River into the city. A second walk is planned for the Umgeni catchment area in KwaZulu Natal.

Other elements of the campaign include an accessible, glossy report highlighting South Africa’s 22 water source areas, and education campaigns in restaurants and retail outlets.