South Africa: Young Inventor Shares Vision for Water Secure SA

Close friends and classmates, Unam Halam and Faith Claasen’s invention, the Drop Saver, is making waves at the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Drop Saver is the brainchild of the two teens from Heatherlands High School in George, Western Cape.

It is a device that can be attached to a tap to help prevent water leaks, thereby helping to save water in communities.

Co-inventor Unam is currently participating in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition, which has seen students aged between 15 and 20 presenting innovations focused on water-based solutions.

The vivacious Unam, 16, shared with Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, her vision for a water secure South Africa at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Minister on Tuesday.

“The Western Cape province experienced the worst recorded drought in history between 2016 and 2018. This period reminded us that water is a precious commodity and in order to ensure long-term water availability and supply, we have to start making water wise changes now,” said Unam in discussion with Mchunu.

Unam dreams of seeing their invention being used nationwide. She wants to keep educating people on the importance of saving water.

“I would love to see the Drop Saver implemented nationwide and used on a daily basis. I would love for it to first be implemented around schools in my community, then in different communities around my town and provinces.

“I would want to be part of the implementation of the invention and see it bear fruit. This project is very dear to my heart I want to be a part of its growth and continue to educate people on the importance of water saving,” Unam said.

She is encouraged to make small changes as part of her contribution to water conservation at her school and community.

“A simple thing like closing the tap of water while brushing your teeth really goes a long way, which is something learners at our school really battle with.

“We have seen how many learners drink water from the tap and just walk away without closing it, expecting the next person to do it.

“This led to hundreds of litres of water being wasted every single day from one leaking tap. This is how the Drop Saver device was invented,” she said.

Halam had the Minister’s full attention when she shared her views about the water scarcity situation affecting different parts of the country, and offered her well thought proposed solutions.

The learner has always aimed high, with dreams of becoming either an attorney or engineer.

“I ended up falling in love with engineering once I started doing technology at school and helping my father to fix and create things at home, that’s when I knew I wanted to go into the engineering field,” Unam said.

Mchunu wished Unam well and assured his support for their invention.

“By virtue of you making it this far, you are a winner to me. I am very impressed with the invention and happy that you do not want it to gather dust without being implemented,” Mchunu told Unam.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner will be announced on Tuesday at the Norra Latin Hall in Stockholm. Mchunu and Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, will attend the ceremony.

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