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August 2018

5 ways the water shortage is affecting hygiene in the Eastern Cape [update]

Written by Lemay Rogers
Environment and Green Hygiene

Much like the well documented water crisis in Cape Town, the Eastern Cape has been experiencing worsening water shortages as dam levels across the province drop drastically, with the dam supplying Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and surrounding areas dropping to its lowest level - 25.6% and declining at 0.7% a week!

News24 documents that at least one metro and number of towns are at risk of running out of water. It is safe to assume that the same water restrictions that were imposed on Cape Town residents will inevitably be imposed on those in the Eastern Cape.

So what does this mean for your hygiene and health?

water and hygiene in Eastern Cape

A lack of water increases the risk of illness

By skipping your hand washing routine you are increasing the risk of contracting bacteria that may cause illnesses such as respiratory infections and diarrhea.

Cross contamination is intensified

If you choose not to wash your hands in order to save water, your contaminated hands can transfer germs to up to seven separate surfaces. This may include the telephone, your colleague’s stapler or the office water cooler button. Germs can live on a surface for up to 48 hours hence it’s important to limit cross contamination to minimise the risk of illness.

Increased pest activity increases your risk of disease

You are probably making the wise choice to no longer rinse your recyclable items in order to use that water more effectively.  Food residue on your recycling provides a great food source for unwanted guests such as flies and rodents if you don’t seal your recycling bin. Both flies and rats can be detrimental to your environment by spreading disease and causing damage to property. To learn more about these pests visit our Rentokil website.


With people being forced to shower less frequently you may find body odour on the increase. While some people say that showering 3 times a week is more than enough, you still need to invest in a good antiperspirant.  Whilst sweat itself is practically odour free, the rapidly multiplying bacteria in your sweat produces the unpleasant odour.

Increased risk of accidents

People may opt to wash their floors and surfaces less in an attempt to conserve water.  But the buildup of dirt could lead to slips, trips and falls that could lead to injury.

So what can you do to try minimise these risks:

  • Invest in a waterless hand sanitiser
  • Look at ways to collect more grey water that can be used to wash floor and rinse recycling
  • Be aware of your personal hygiene, apply antiperspirant more often than once a day to prevent odours

Remember, each drop of water counts; read our blog on How to save more grey water [in your office and home] for handy tips you can put into action to save water.

Ensure your co-workers are keeping water usage to a minimum, print out these water saving posters and place them in areas where people need to be reminded about water restrictions.

Download your water saving posters

There are more areas in your office where hygiene can be an issue. Take a look at out Hygiene Hotspots map to find our where else you can increase your hygiene efforts. 

Discover the Hygiene Hotspots in your office

Lemay Rogers

Lemay Rogers

Lémay Rogers is the Marketing Manager for Rentokil Initial's Sub-Saharan Africa region. When not contributing to the Initial blog, she is the custodian of all things Marketing for Rentokil Initial Sub-Saharan Africa. As a frequent traveller AND mother of a pre-schooler, she is all too aware of how easily germs can travel with us, from one location to another and then back to our homes. Follow Lémay on Twitter and LinkedIn for practical advice on good hygiene practices, both at home and in the workplace.

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