50 liters is a collection of stories and tips on how to use water better.
Once water becomes scarce, the world can feel like a lonely place but, you are not alone. Across the planet, people in cities are waking up to the reality that water is a scarce and very valuable resource.
Cities on different continents – Cape Town, São Paulo, Brisbane, San Francisco, to name a few – have all stared a future with precious little water in the face, and emerged stronger to tell the tales.
This blog is dedicated to those experiences – to the lessons that have been learned from the people that lived it, and can help their neighbours in thirsty cities across the globe become more resilient too.
The purpose of 50 liters is to share stories, knowledge, and inspiration, for a better future for all of us.
Why 50 liters?
Fifty liters is not a lot of water. To give you a better idea, this is what a day with 50 liters of water could look like:
It’s what residents of world renowned Cape Town were asked to work with at the peak of an unprecedented 3 year drought. The tourist hotspot suddenly made headlines the globe over not because a World Cup was coming, or Table Mountain was bestowed another accolade, but because it was running out of water.
Fifty liters is also the minimum amount of water the World Health Organization (WHO) stipulates as necessary to ensure that a person’s most basic needs are met (the exact amount is 50 to 100 liters). Still, for many people, its worse. According to the UNDP, most people categorized as lacking access to clean water use about 5 litres a day – one tenth of the average daily amount a person in a rich country would use to flush their toilet.
Once you start looking into cities that are running low on water, Cape Town is only the tip of the iceberg. Many, many cities almost right across the planet are struggling to provide the people that live there with water-secure futures. In 2015, mega-metropolis São Paulo (Brazil) had 20 days of water supply left for its 22 million residents. In Australia, the 2001 to 2009 Millennium drought devastated industries, the environment and communities, striking right in the populous southeast heartland of the country, home to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. International media have listed Tokyo (Japan), Bangalore (India), Beijing (China), Cairo (Egypt), Jakarta (Indonesia), Moscow (Russia), Istanbul (Turkey), Mexico City (Mexico), London (United Kingdom) and Miami (United States) as only some of the cities that will face extreme water shortfalls in future.
But for me, a South African citizen, that moment that Cape Town announced the 50 liters limit is when the penny dropped. It started a tremendous, global journey of learning and discovery on the trail of the one thing that connects us all: water.
After all, if we experience similar challenges, we should have something to learn from each other, right? And so, the 50 liters project was born.
Hello, my name is Petro
I am a traveler, storyteller and conservationist.
I love this planet, and believe that much of the work necessary to protect it must take place where most of the people are – in cities. I’ve spent most of my career working in the fields of environmental matters, freshwater issues and science, and how to get these to people’s attention. This grand adventure that has kept me busy for over 10 years already, taking me across southern Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Europe.
On paper, I am a conservation and environmental specialist editor, photo journalist and project manager. I also work as communications consultant (get in touch if you want to work with me).
But, really, I tell stories.
Currently I tell stories about water.
Get in touch
Do you have any tips on how to save water? Do you have a water story to tell, or know of one that should be part of the 50 liters project?