Friday, September 7, 2007

Water in Gabs

We went to the yacht club today after work, and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset. I went with Amy, Michael, and Michael's fiancee (whose name escapes me at the moment). It's set over the Gaborone dam, and people can take boats out on the small lake. The yacht club itself is pretty nice - the clientele is almost entirely made up of ex-pats. They serve plenty of alcohol, and some food that they mostly warm in a microwave or grill. Apparently it gets quite crowded on friday and saturday nights usually, but tonight was unusually calm.

This dam provides most of the water for Gaborone and the surrounding area. Right now, the lake is super super low, which you can see by the water line. Last year, Gaborone (and the rest of southern Botswana) experienced a severe drought - they had a ridiculously low amount of rain. I think it was 2.5 cm or something like that for the entire summer. And the couple of years before that was not great either. I think the last time they had great rain was 4-5 years ago. And before that good year, there was a drought for a period of years as well. So it's been relatively dry for southern Botswana for the last decade or so.

As a result, a lot of people have stopped farming and are trying to eke out a living doing other things, usually in urban centers. Cattle look really skinny because there's nothing to eat, and livestock of all sorts are not doing well. It rained for about 5 minutes during our braai last weekend, and everyone was jumping for joy. Rain and water is so important that the word for rain, "pula," is also the word they use for money. That's also what you say when you raise your glass in a toast, like "Cheers!"

Hopefully this year Botswana will get lots of pula!

No comments: