Day Zero: What's Happening In Cape Town?
When you consider natural disasters that devastate the world, the primary ones that come to mind are the quick ones, like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes that happen out of nowhere leaving communities destroyed and struggling to rebuild. Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria four months later. But what about the slow disasters? The ones that we see watch coming, slowly creeping into communities like a cancer leaving us to helplessly watch as infrastructure fails. The ones that give us a false sense of “we still have time” until it’s too late.
Image: Cape Town Tourism / Craig Howes
April 16, 2018, coined “Day Zero”, (an ominous title that sounds more like a Christopher Nolan film than anything else) is the date that Cape Town, South Africa is expected to run out of water. Taps and faucets will be officially turned off for their 400k plus residents. The city, which depends on rain as their primary source of water, has experienced a drought since 2015, the worse in over a hundred years. The dams that house and reserve the rainwater the city so desperately relies on are now at 26% capacity.
Image: Theewaterskloof Dam/ Jon Kerrin Photography
Cape Town will be one of the first major cities to run out of water. To deal with this disaster, city officials have limited the amount of water that individuals are able to use to 87 liters per day. For reference, an average shower uses 15 liters of water per minute. That is also the amount of water used to flush a toilet. The daily limit will eventually be decreased to 50 liters. With these limitations in place, on 54% of the population is complying with the ordinance. City officials are finding it hard to reprimand and fine abusers because it is nearly impossible to regulate.
Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape Province wrote in the Daily Maverick, “When day zero arrives, how do we make water accessible and prevent anarchy?”
The global sanitation crisis, a cause that Team TUSHY cares very deeply about, goes hand in hand with the global water crisis. Without water, safe accessible sanitation also suffers. With the amount of water wasted globally, we fear Cape Town may not be the only major city to suffer from this devastating disaster in years to come.