Drought isn’t pretty, I have seen it, I have lived it, so when somebody asks that I share something that could alleviate the strain of the water crisis in the Cape… I am there. Just like in my newsletter (that went out yesterday) I am begging that we all do something amazing this Christmas for our fellow South Africans.

Siemens AirDrop is conducting a social experiment.

Flying to Cape Town? Travellers encouraged to swop baggage allowance for water from Jozi #SiemensAirdrop

The annual festive season trek from Jo’burg to the sunny shores of Cape Town is gathering steam, but this year Gautengers will descend on a drought ravaged city and their presence will put even more strain on the dwindling water supply.

To help raise awareness about the need to use water extremely sparingly in the Cape, on Friday 15 December Gautengers will be encouraged to participate in a social experiment and exchange five kilos of their on-flight baggage allowance for five litres of water.


Siemens would like to clarify that the AirDrop experiment taking place on Friday 15 December is based on a voucher system and that passengers will not physically be checking in water when the fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Siemens AirDrop is a one-day social experiment to create awareness and see how quickly we can get 5 Tonnes of water from Jozi to CT using flights that are already scheduled. For the purposes of this experiment Siemens is using a voucher system: passengers with enough unused (5kg or more) luggage will receive a voucher – not a five-litre bottle of water. It is on a first come first serve basis, there are 1000 vouchers available. Siemens has pre-transported the water to Cape Town, and when passengers arrive they can either collect their water to use whilst in Cape Town, or Siemens will donate the water to Gift of the Givers. This is a social experiment to see what is possible, not a call to action.

Cape Town is in the throes of its worst drought in more than 100 years, with dam levels at around 35% and ‘day zero’ – when the city runs out of water completely – is predicted for late April 2018. Keshin Govender, Head of Communications for Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, says the severity of the crisis inspired them to do something. “Every year Gautengers go to Cape Town for their holidays. If you consider that the daily per person water allocation is 87 litres, this places tremendous additional strain on the city.”

During a one-day activation at OR Tambo and Cape Town International airports, travellers can participate by having their luggage weighed at the Siemens AirDrop stand, located in the check-in hall opposite the self-service check-in counters (directly next to ACSA Info Desk at OR Tambo). Any travellers whose luggage is five (or more) kilos under the weight limit will be able to ‘exchange’ their unused kilograms for litres of water that will be delivered to Cape Town on their behalf.

“By simply exchanging unused luggage kilos for water, we hope to ‘airlift’ around 5000 litres (5 Tonnes) of drinking water to the city in a matter of hours. It is this kind of ingenuity that has made us a global leader in intelligent water management.” says Govender.

The flight route between Johannesburg and Cape Town is one of the busiest in the world, with over 4.4 million passengers flying it every year. Many passengers don’t use their full baggage allowance (ranging from 23 to 32 kilograms, depending on the airline). Business travellers often only take carry-on luggage, and even some holidaymakers pack light in order to do some shopping down in the Cape.

Upon arrival in Cape Town, passengers can either collect their guilt-free Jozi water to use during their stay, or they can opt to leave it at the collection point at Cape Town International Airport. The AirDrop collection stand will be in the arrivals area, opposite Woolworths. Uncollected water will be donated to Gift of the Givers.

The Siemens AirDrop illustrates the constant need for new and innovative solutions. “Only through ingenuity can we overcome the constraints of outdated and wasteful methods. AirDrop is an example of what can be accomplished if we apply this type of thinking to all industries across the country,” says Govender. Siemens has numerous intelligent systems in the water industry that make better use of energy, avoid unnecessary water losses and minimize the consumption of resources.

Govender says the Siemens AirDrop is a good example of how South Africans can do something for fellow citizens.


Susann is a travel, parenting, beauty and lifestyle blogger in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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