As a team we are constantly aware of ways in which we can lower our carbon footprint – this applies not only to our camps, where we focus strongly on protecting our beautiful wilderness with the lightest footprint, but also to those of us working in our regional offices in South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town), Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is with this in mind that we made contact with Jack Chakanga, our Environmental Officer in Namibia. Jack is a big believer in doing as much as possible, no matter how small it may first seem, to make sure that we mitigate waste – his main focus right now is on making sure that we conserve water across all our properties throughout Namibia. From water projects in the Windhoek office to the exquisitely-appointed Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, with Jack there’s no stone left unturned.
Conserving Water Across Wilderness Safaris Namibia Operations
Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara – this means that water conservation is of the utmost importance to our operations in the country. Due to the location of our camps in arid areas, water conservation efforts are implemented to mitigate waste. Everything from drinking water, swimming, showering and laundry use is carefully considered.
In our Windhoek office a noticeboard has been placed in the front of the main building and is updated daily. This board serves as a reminder to all that we need to reach our 40% target on water saving each month. On the board we display the monthly water usage per person per day and we continue to monitor this trend to see if we are achieving our target. In addition, suggestions and ideas on how to save water are also displayed and implemented.
Our Windhoek vehicle fleet uses the Green Machine waterless car-wash service. The Green Machine is an environmentally-friendly, waterless car-washing system which is both a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to the traditional and now outdated car wash. It saves precious fresh drinking water by only using 750 ml of water per wash as opposed to the 200 litres per wash needed for a regular wash bay. The Green Machine uses minimal water and does not pollute the water system.
To reduce water consumption at camps the water usage must be less than 100 litres per person per day, for both staff and guests. All camp managers are aware to include this message in the welcome briefing to guests visiting our camps.
A reverse osmosis filtration system is used to purify drinking water in all our camps. This is used together with Wilderness re-usable bottles and water-dispensing machines to reduce the use of bottled water that must be delivered to the camps. This not only reduces the carbon footprint due to reduced deliveries, but also reduces the petroleum needed to produce plastic bottles as well as the amount of plastic waste. Guests can then fill their reusable bottles from these dispensing units.
Dual flush toilets and small-cistern toilets are used at our camps to control water usage in toilets. There are low-flow shower heads and aerators to reduce water flow and buckets are placed in the showers of all guest rooms to collect the cold water while waiting for the water to warm up. The water is then used by staff to clean the tents.
Water tests are conducted regularly to check for various health and safety factors. This is done on all the water that is reticulated throughout the camp. This allows Wilderness camps to have the confidence to reassure guests that the water is safe for drinking. At the same time, this may indicate if there has been any contamination at the water source being used by the camp.
Water metres are installed on all camp water supply systems and water usage is recorded at regular intervals.
All camps keep a detailed map of the water reticulation system. This allows for better maintenance and improved understanding of the water reticulation system when new staff join the camp. Monthly checks are done along the reticulation routes to ensure no leaks occur.
Camp managers make sure each guest is given a personalised reusable water bottle upon arrival. The guests use these water bottles for the rest of their journey.
Keep an eye out for our environmental posts – we will be featuring many more updates from our regions to showcase the great work being done.
Written by Jack Chakanga, Wilderness Safaris Environmental Officer Namibia