South African Water Shortage


River basin outside Cape Town with nearly no water left

Cape Town; the capital of South Africa, is about to completely run out of water. Not dissimilar to Flint, MI, where water wasn’t clean, but there is absolutely no water at all.

Cape Town currently has a population of just under four million and has experienced extreme drought for the last three and a quarter years. Beginning in 2015, the city has received less rain in almost three years than Seattle gets in half of April. Many blame the severity of the drought on the city’s population and on the fact that South Africa relies nearly completely on rainwater collection. On almost all ends of the city, giant basins collect water attached to dams. These have run completely dry over three years. Cape Town has not utilized strategies such as underground aquifers or desalination plants. Freshman Mitchell Park questioned, “Why did their planning departments not step in much earlier?” A report from the federal government stated that Cape Town gets over 99 percent of its water supply from their dams.

Compounding this issue is the fact that there is almost zero income diffusion throughout the city. The idea that sources of income nearly always are at their peak towards the interior of a city and poverty generally strikes the fringes absolutely doesn’t apply in Cape Town. Poor urban development and planning has left the incredibly poor living throughout the cities near businesses and expensive apartments. This has led to Cape Town gaining the recognition of #1 most economically unequal place on earth for the last few years. This income disparity leads to higher crime rates than most similar cities. In addition to the already heightened amount of crime, water could now become a target for would-be criminals, as the average 6 kilometer walk to any water station leaves the impoverished vulnerable.

As of now the projected last day with water is anywhere from late May to early July. Many aid organizations have already began assembling funds and supplies for a relief effort in the near future. Junior Jason Gale commented, “Thank God for volunteer organizations. They keep the world dignified at our lowest points.” At this time, the story will continue to develop until massive rainfall or aid efforts arrive.