Adapting: Intermittent Water and Electricity

The apartment I stay in in Lusaka is not very different from my old apartment in Montreal. I have 2 bedrooms, a nice bathroom, balcony, big kitchen, parking lot, ect. It is not until you look closer at the details that you begin to notice signs of adaptations to something you would not expect in Montreal – intermittent water and electricity access.

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It has been a rough year for Zambia, starting with the annual rains starting weeks late. Then there was significantly less rain than the average. For a country whose electricity comes from hydro power this was a recipe for disaster.

In June, only 3 months after the annual rains (which last on average 5 months) had ended marked the beginning of load shedding. This simply means that the pressure on the system is forcibly reduced by daily scheduled blackouts for every household and business across Zambia. Meaning every day my office and my home are both without power for approximately 6 hours.

I am lucky that this does not affect my access to water at home, like the many households that rely on a pump for their water (example if they have a borehole) which means no power = no water. But this does not mean my apartment does not have its own water issues. Being located on the second floor of the building means that the water pressure is often too low to bring water to the apartment. The low pressure is affected by the use of water by our neighbours and other factors I have yet to understand.

In May when I moved into the apartment I had no idea how I would deal with never knowing when and for how long I would have access to water. In June, when load shedding started, no one could imagine how we would make it until December with 6 electricity free hours per day. But end of September, I have adapted, and so has everyone else.

Here are a few examples of my adaption strategies:
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Storing water in bucket with a tap to make it easier to wash hands and dishes
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Having a large toilet tank (that hold approx 30L)
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Storing approximately 100L of water
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A small gas stove for cooking
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Headlamps

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Natural ventilation
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Keeping all electronic devices fully charged
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Bucket baths

Have a great Monday!

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