Cape Town water crisis: Imagine living a day without water. Horrific! Isn’t it? South Africa’s City of Cape Town is facing its worst drought in 100 years. On Wednesday, Cape Town residents were told to cut their daily water consumption by almost half from February. The authorities of the city are meanwhile scrambling to prevent the city running dry as soon as in April.
Cape Town is South Africa’s second-largest city and also a major international tourist hub. The city had last cut water consumption targets in October 2017. However, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on Wednesday said not many residents were paying any heed to water consumption restrictions. From February 1, water consumption per person would be lowered to 50 litres (13 gallons) from 87 litres a day, the mayor said, adding, collective consumption target will be 450 million litres from 500 million litres a day. In a statement, De Lille said, “We have reached a point of no return,” De Lille said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the ‘Day Zero’ – when taps in the city would run dry – is now expected on April 21, a day earlier than previously forecast. The new water consumption targets would remain in place for 150 days before the city reassesses the situation.
There are many reasons for which people of the world should worry over the crisis in Cape Town – the city where recently India and South Africa played a cricket Test match. Droughts have become unpredictable. The city had been facing drought-like situation since 2015. However, there was little possibility of drought carrying into 2017. In fact, a recent study by the University of Cape Town had predicted that chances of drought carrying into 2017 were less that one in 1000. The city was little prepared to tackle the massive challenge. Cape Town happens to be one of the biggest cities in South Africa and a sense of panic is gripping the tourist town.
Why Indians should worry
Shortage of water is a problem faced by almost all urban centres of the world. Even in India, the situation is not so happy. A world bank report last year had said that at least 21 Indian cities were moving towards zero groundwater level by 2020.
As per a report by World Resources Institute, as much as 54 percent of India’s area is under “high” to “extremely high water stress”. The stark future of the Indian cities can be judged from the fact that water requirement would rise up to 1.5 trillion, while the current supply of water is just 740 billion cubic meter. Experts believe that 40 per cent of people in India may not get to drink water by 2030.
(Article first published on 19 January, 2018; updated on 7 February 2018)