By Shafiq Morton
CAPE TOWN’S Muslim community – over a million strong and served by 150 water-guzzling mosques – has been taking steps to save water. Awqaf South Africa, an endowment-receiving organisation, which only spends the income generated from its investments, has decided to step in and help.
With its focus on integrated community development and self-reliance, Awqaf has been focusing on making mosques water wise, which cut down water usage and costs.
To this effect, Awqaf deputy CEO, Mickaeel Collier, spearheaded a pilot conservation project in November last year, with a view to implementing it at community centres across the region.
According to Collier, the idea is to supply Jo-Jo tanks – and where possible – to sink boreholes. If these centres were to be equipped with 2,000 litre water containers, water tankers in a possible Day Zero scenario could fill the Jo-Jos on the community site. The water could then be distributed in a safe, friendly and controlled environment to those who needed it.
Masjid ul-Moejahidien, which serves an underprivileged community in Manenberg on the Cape Flats, was chosen for the project. During their site visit, experts found that the tap flow in the ablution section was very high, with an estimated flow rate of three litres per minute.
The supply stop valve was closed to 25% and water saving taps with aerators were installed, thus reducing the flow to about half a litre a minute. On the roof, a double layer of Perspex gutters was used to intensify the rain harvesting system.
Rainfall would flow into the Jo-Jo tanks, which could be connected to the water reticulation system, via a booster pump, for use inside the mosque.
“Economically vulnerable communities need interventions like these to make them resilient against future environmental challenges. These are challenges that are not going to go away, and if all mosques, madrasahs, churches and community centres could follow this simple model, we estimate that millions of water could be saved to the benefit of those affected,” said Collier.
Sulaiman Peters, the chairperson of Masjid ul- Moejahidien, said that the installation of tanks and water savings measures would decrease their water bill, despite massive tariff hikes by the City of Cape Town authorities.
“This water crisis has had a massive impact on us. It really hurt the community. It was a heavy thing on us, but now we can smile,” he said.