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Cape Town is running out of time as water shortage nears

in Africa & the Diaspora/Crisis & Natural Disasters by

Before drought levels get better in the Western Cape, South Africa, it seems that the water shortage has difficult days and decisions ahead.

Frantic citizens load up on water and others work to build personal reservoirs, while the city continues to point fingers.

After three consecutive years of severe drought taxing a region already experiencing low water levels sourced from its dams, the main city, Cape Town worries as Day Zero quickly approaches.

Cape Town / South Africa – January 25, 2018: Lines of people waiting to collect natural spring water for drinking in Newlands in the drought in Cape Town South Africa. Photo Credit: Mark Fisher

The best scenario is that the city makes it to the rainy season that starts in May. The worst prospects are water shortages, disease outbreaks, break down of sanitation and finally, anarchy, according to Greg Pillay, manager of the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk management centre.

To prepare, military are in place and 200 emergency water stations have been installed to accommodate 4 million residents .

Last week, the plan was to mandate a 50-litre-a-day ration or a little over 13 gallons. Now, officials work to reduce the water limit by 25% to avoid the closure of most water mains.

Day Zero Approaches

Informal settlements in Cape Flats of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa.

The world still works to understand how a major metropolis can dry up. Reports point to a perfect combination of a fragile infrastructure with a poorly maintained water system, dry conditions and overpopulation.

However, other factors emerged in understanding the issue. Some people point to the amount of water that vineyards use as a serious issue. While a recent report showed that the leakage of old pipes in various levels of disrepair cause 37 percent of water loss.

Another issue with the water crisis is the divide between the wealthy, white population and the poor black and colored residents who live in shanty townships on the outskirts of Cape Town. While those with means stockpile water, those less fortunate struggle daily for access to a clean source.

Protests by local groups claim that Day Zero will result in the privatization of one of the most basic resources that should be free.

Although Cape Town’s water problem might seem as an isolated incident, National Geographic point to four cities with the same issue: Sao Paolo, Melbourne, Jakarta and Mexico City; plus a host of Indian urban areas.

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