The term “load shedding” in Zambia is what “Brexit” is to the UK and one word sums it all up, disruptive. In the past the country experienced power cuts every now and then but nothing compares to the daily power cuts which have become the norm. The government attributes the electricity issue to a lack of adequate rainfall and we have become desensitised to the situation instead of holding our leaders accountable to finding a long term solution to this crisis.
Tariffs are up 200% for a service that people are barely getting. If you live near a hospital you do not experience any of this but imagine going to bed and waking up to no electricity and no water at times until some specified time every day for months and months, that’s the reality of life in Zambia at the moment. At first, it started out very civilised with a schedule and an app so that you knew when the power would go and come back in your area which helped with planning. Then it moved from 4 to 8 to 16 to 20 hours a day with no electricity and no warning.
The reality is that not everyone can afford other alternatives like a generator, solar or inverters as prices have gone up massively. Here are my top tips for surviving load shedding as an individual as most businesses and shopping malls have electricity alternatives:
Back to Basics
Never in a million years did I think I would be considering resurrecting a Neanderthal to teach me how to live without electricity. The anxiety of it all is real because it seems like everything comes to a standstill from waiting up just to make sure the laundry is done to ironing whatever chance you get even if it’s 3 am. Make sure you store some water in case of emergencies also realise that candles are now your friend not just for that special candle lit dinner, so stock up.
Preparation is Key
Be prepared! Planning and preparation is very important in these circumstances so everyday stuff ike charging your phone, ironing, laundry, what sort of food you buy etc. Make sure that you have a meal plan and any other alternatives where possible. If you have a deep freezer meal prep is a life saver, I shared some easy recipes to get you through as it is vital because anything fresh will not last 2 days in a fridge that has no power for most of the day. If you want a salad buy ingredients on the day otherwise it’s a waste.
Sense of Humor
You need to have a laugh about this whole thing like how to dress in the dark if you have to get to work super early or just as you lather yourself in the shower and it’s time to rinse yourself there’s only hot water so you either rinse and burn or stink, decisions, decisions. On the plus side if you like warm beer it will all work for you.
Try really hard to remember what life was like without the internet because it won’t necessarily work most of the time without power. Get back to reading for instance rediscovering all the things that you have ignored like playing chess or monopoly or camping and going on a safari get those experiences in your system.
A day at a Time
You have no control over this situation unless you have a generator, solar and an inverter you have to take it a day at a time just to survive because that is what everyone is doing. It’s a painful experience because we rely heavily on power to cook, for lighting, charging and as long as we have no power life is at a standstill. The economy has been greatly affected because few products are produced due to low production but despite all the challenges hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel, we hope.
Zambia has sunshine for most of the year but there seems to be no obvious solution, no long-term plans or goals of how we can become less reliant on electricity. We only have a short-term measure which is importing power from countries that are also struggling with the same issue. As of now the future is dim without a radical change!