Worst drought in over a century, severe water crisis continues in South Africa


Southern provinces of South Africa are still under their worst drought in over a century. While the crisis in Western Cape Province and Cape Town's 'Day Zero' – the day when they run out of tap water – are making headlines in both national and international media, residents of neighboring Eastern Cape say they are in a far worse situation. 

On January 22, 2018, Cape Town authorities announced that Day Zero has moved forward to April 12, 2018, due to a drop in the dam levels of 1.4%. Officials, however, cautioned that the new date is subject to change, based on a number of variables, so the day they run out of tap water might come even sooner.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille urged residents to stand together and rolled out additional strict measures as well as aggressive pressure on management operations across the city, installing thousands of water management devices on the properties of high users.

The new measures, level 6b water restrictions, will take effect from February 1. The new restrictions mean that residents will only be permitted to use 50 liters of water per person, per day.

"Our desalination, aquifer and water recycling projects aimed at providing additional water are ongoing but will not provide sufficient supply to help us avoid Day Zero this year," she said. "They will, however, help us to become more resilient in weathering our next dry season."

Residents of neighboring Eastern Cape say it's not fair that all the attention is going to Western Cape and Cape Town, adding that Cape Town has other resources that they can tap into. "We don't! If the tap is dry, the tap is dry," Kirsten Werner who lives in Port Elizabeth told TimesLIVE.

The Nelson Mandela Bay metro municipality’s combined dam capacity was 25.17% as of Thursday, January 24. Individually‚ the Kouga dam was at 7.71%‚ Churchill Dam at 18.71‚ Impofu Dam at 43.47%‚ Loerie Dam at 86.55% and Groendal Dam at 51.80%.

Featured image: Theewaterskloof Dam on January 24, 2018. Credit: Alistair Coy


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