Climate Change, Science

Droughts continue to devastate regions of South Africa

In the midst of South Africa’s World Cup successes, it is perhaps less widely known that the country is also facing its worst drought in living memory. The country has taken up various emergency measures and is declaring several parts of the country as disaster areas. Smaller towns in its Northern and Eastern Cape provinces have not had access to water for the past five years. This threatens their total water supply and livestock, foreshadowing a financial ruin.  

Heatwave conditions and late rains have caused a decrease in the local supply of water in many parts of the country. Although its urban areas still have reasonable water levels from dams, Cape Town’s introduction of ‘Day Zero’ will only add fear to those already suffering. On Day Zero, The City of Cape Town will switch off all its taps, which could mean that residents will have to stand in queues to collect 25 litres of water per person per day. 

According to current projections in TIME, Cape Town could be out of water in coming months. Although the residents are not responsible for this crisis, they will need to cut down their usage drastically if they want to prevent it. During the past month’s heatwaves in Gauteng province, local reservoirs also ran dry. Climatologists at the University of Cape Town state that man-made global warming is the likely factor behind this horrific change. They also outline how this event is not an outlier and could soon happen to many cities across the globe, whether developing or not.  

For those in South Africa, city officials in Cape Town have urged the quick stocking up of the emergency supply of drinking water. The water crisis also stems from poor town planning, the previous three years of drought and poor crisis management. With the country’s increasing population, its outdated water infrastructure has long struggled. Nevertheless, recent research shows that South African groundwater supplies are not yet being negatively affected.  

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Monique Santoso

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October 2021
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