Change behaviour at work to save water

In the face of climate change and increasing water scarcity, the research of North-West University (NWU) academic Prof Lobina Palamuleni has highlighted the urgent need to save water at the workplace and to change how people – especially men – use water.

Prof Palamuleni, from the School of Geo and Spatial Sciences, says water conservation demands immediate attention, particularly the preservation, control and management of water resources.

“Per capita water availability has declined in recent decades, and the situation is expected to worsen with the global warming crisis, leading to further depletion and unpredictability of surface water sources,” she says.

She adds that the impact of climate-induced ecological changes will significantly alter the availability, reliability, quality, quantity and accessibility of water.

“This has broad socio-economic ramifications, particularly in countries facing challenges related to scarcity and inequitable access to water. Freshwater scarcity poses a significant threat to food security, business performance and overall economic growth, especially in arid and semi-arid regions affected by droughts and climate variability.”

Her study has highlighted the necessity for efficient and immediate responses requiring not only technical interventions but also behavioural changes.

Gender differences in attitudes to water conservation

“The significant role that managers play in promoting pro-environmental behaviour at work indicates a correlation between gender and behaviour concerning water conservation,” says Prof Palamuleni.

Her study evaluated factors related to predictors of water-conservation motivation behaviour at work to understand the relationship between the gender of managers and motivation predictors for water conservation.

One notable finding was the relationships between gender and behaviour related to water conservation. The lack of environmental values and conservation attitudes, particularly among males compared to females, emerged as a key factor impeding water conservation.

To address this, she says institutions should actively promote water conservation behaviour among top-level managers and extend these efforts to all employees.

Prof Palamuleni also recommends the promotion of gender policies to enhance male socialisation, bridging existing gaps and increasing motivations toward water conservation behaviour.

“Environmental education programmes are crucial variables that need consideration for ensuring understanding, awareness, and successful implementation of water conservation. Knowledge about climate change and its implications for water resources can empower individuals to adopt pro-environmental behaviour, thus contributing to the conservation of natural resources.”

Submitted on Fri, 02/23/2024 - 15:01