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Nelson Mandela University is actively preparing for Day Zero with a series of plans and interventions to ensure that students are able to complete the 2022 Academic Year, starting with basic emergency water support and portable toilets through the forthcoming examination period.

A multi-stakeholder Water Crisis Emergency Management Team has been established to plan and lead the University’s response.

These plans include:

Phase 1: Emergency Day Zero Plan

Interventions to provide basic water needs will be implemented to ensure that students can proceed with their on-campus examinations and assessments, and residence students and on-campus staff will have access to both drinking and non-potable water, and to portable toilets.

To kick-off Phase 1, the University will soon begin the process of temporarily closing some buildings and ablution blocks to further reduce water consumption ahead of Day Zero and introduce portable toilets at exam, assessment and LT areas instead. Maps will be provided to identify where the portable toilets are, along with non-potable water tanks for bucket-flushing of toilets and fresh water drinking tanks. The latter will be topped up as needed.

This period of extreme discomfort – with no running water in the municipal system – will be replaced by Phase 2 of the water crisis plans within seven to 10 days (additional details to follow).

Phase 2: Introduction of additional alternative water sources

The University will introduce Phase 2 – that of closing the metro supply valves and switching - alternative water sources into the Mandela University water reticulation system on its North, South, Ocean Sciences and Second Avenue campuses as soon as the necessary procurement and physical work to enable this is completed. This alternative water source will not be fit for drinking and provision for consumption will continue.

Assess own needs and plan

While the University is readying itself to ensure that basic needs are in place to support the academic project broadly, each division and  all on- and off-campus residences, should urgently assess their own specific needs and introduce plans to address these.

This will include the likes of managing numbers on campus; ordering bottled water and encouraging staff and students to bring water with them to campus; procuring buckets or water bottles with handles and taps (10 litre for the smaller units) - for the collection of water; seeking special provision and innovative solutions for lab work and cancelling events that will bring large numbers of people on campus.

While LT activities will continue as planned, when needed, the balance between online and M2M teaching and assessment will be tweaked along with shifting some things between campuses. This means that, as has been communicated to students and staff, when a module requires M2M activities, they are expected to be in Gqeberha so that they can come to campus as required.

Departments need to assess how to continue rotating staff for on-campus work and balance this with remote work. Line managers should continue to determine this balance and develop a roster for when staff work on campus. Line managers should do this for the Phase 1 period first. Thereafter, guidelines will be developed for Phase 2, to enable line managers for the longer-term management of staff work arrangements.


Details of interventions will be consistently shared via Memo.

A dedicated webpage – Water Crisis Support – is being developed as a go-to site for all water crisis guidance. It will host all water point and ablution facility maps, key water-related news stories, contact details for water emergencies, water crisis awareness collateral for printing and articles and PowerPoints sharing what the University is doing to support staff and students to navigate this crisis.

Leading by example

The University acknowledges that in this complex time of multiple crises that we need to navigate, we will have to be solution-focused and constantly monitor things and adapt our plans as needed. We will all have to be patient, cooperative, and adapt to the discomfort of not having water freely available and having to collect water at points.

While we hope for the best, we all need to plan for the worst and rise to the challenge.


Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057