Shelter making provisions for drought

Pius Okiror with two of the four massive water tanks at The Haven Night Shelter in Wynberg.

Pius Okiror is not someone to let the grass grow under his feet… although he would not mind vegetables.

Originally from Uganda, Pius sought refuge at The Haven Night Shelter 13 years ago. The organisation has been around for about 39 years and has shelters all over Cape Town, including the one in Wynberg which has been in the former St Joseph’s church since 1995.

Coming to South Africa with a little money in 2004, Pius found himself living on the street and ended up at the shelter. He liked it and ended up volunteering there which led him to becoming the manager of the same shelter. Since then he has started one of the first worm farms and vegetable gardens in the area, and won numerous awards (“Pius’ good work recognised”, Bulletin, December 8, 2016).

During power outages a few years ago, Pius had water heaters fitted and stopped using The Haven’s geyser. This paid off with a reduction in their electricity bill. Then Pius saw the need to save water and reduce the water account. He started by install-
ing water efficient shower
heads, followed by a plan to store water.

The first two tanks were donated by Coca Cola and can store 10 000 litres. “That’s not enough. They say I’m a nag,” he mumbled, taking me into the garden and thumping one of the tanks to see how full it

He was referring to the Department of Agriculture whom he approached for more tanks. They had supported The Haven with tools and seedlings for the veggie garden where produce is used to feed clients, and the excess sold for income.

Pius went back to them and asked how the veggies could be watered. They provided two 10 000 litre tanks. He says it doesn’t take much rain to fill the tanks but it is important to keep the gutters

Pius says water from two of the tanks is used for the washing machine, which the 40 clients can only use on Wednesday and Saturdays. And they have to pay to use them, which teaches them to
think twice about what needs
washing. The rain water is then used for flushing toilets. Municipal water is only used in the kitch-

Pius says they are already working towards Day Zero, washing dishes once a day and not after each of the three meals they supply. He is also weighing up the options of possibly using paper plates, hand sanitiser and paper towels.

Pius has lots of other ideas but no budget for now. He says the veggie garden is on hold at present but they still have the tools and he has asked the Department of Agriculture to send an expert on reusing greywater for possible use in the vegetable garden.

Pius lives in a flat down the road in Wynberg and says The Haven is using far less water than residents there. But he will take this up with the managing agent.

Contact Pius at The Haven Night Shelter Wynberg, on 021 762 8243, or