One of the consequences of the water shortages in the Western and Eastern Cape is a larger number of pests such as cockroaches and rats infesting public areas, which could cause widespread disease.

If you’ve noticed an increasing number of cockroaches recently, it could be because of the drought. According to Professor Michael Samways, a renowned insect conservation from the University of Stellenbosch, thirsty cockroaches are increasingly migrating towards sources of water, such as those generated by human activities.

A local pest control company has backed this up, claiming to have seen a massive spike in work related to cockroach and rat infestations this year as a result of their sewer habitats drying up.

Since cockroaches feed on decaying refuse and faecal matter, they can spread infections such as salmonella and gastroenteritis. Rats are known carriers of serious diseases, including leptospirosis and haemorrhagic fever.

“The lack of water and its negative impact on sanitation, has significantly increased the risk of disease,” says Emma Corder, Country Manager ZA at Nilfisk, a leading global provider of professional cleaning products and services.

“Meticulous attention to cleanliness is paramount to combat the spread of germs as well as eliminating the sources of food and water that attract pests.”

Retailers, in particular, are under pressure to find innovative means to keep stores clean and safeguard the large numbers of shoppers passing through their doors, while minimising water consumption.

According to Corder, smart technologies, that have been developed to utilise fewer resources more efficiently, can help.

For example, many of Nilfisk’s auto-scrubbers are designed with SmartFlow a feature that optimizes water and detergent usage where necessary. Some auto-scrubbers also wash and dry in one sweep, removing standing water that might attract pests.

“Ensuring adequate cleaning processes and maintaining minimum hygiene levels in shops and shopping malls are imperatives for retailers, but thanks to the innovative new cleaning technology, solutions that are more cost-effective and water-efficient in the long run are now possible,” says Corder.