First of Many: Cape Town


Anwa Essop

Source: CNN

Cape Town is a beautiful tourist city that sits at the tip of South Africa. Cape Town is quickly running out of water. The local government is racing to address the situation, with desalination plants making seawater drinkable, groundwater collection projects, and water recycling programs. This issue has been critical since the first week of the year when dam levels dropped below 30%.


On February 1st of 2018, Cape Town took another turn for the worse when residents’ water supply was capped. Residents were being told to use fewer than 13.2 gallons of water per day, turn off the taps while brushing their teeth, and flush toilets with gray water collected in buckets from their showers. If you’re reading this, and not shocked at how little water this is, consider the fact that an average American will use between 80-100 gallons of water a day. One Cape Town resident commented, “We are making do. We have to.”


The BBC asked a very important question when reporting on this water crisis. “Will Cape Town be the first city to run out of water?” The most important part about this question is the word first. Knowing that climate change is greatly impacting the entire world is vital to understanding the gravity of the situation. Due to a severe drought and no steady rain in months, Cape Town is desperate.  “Everyone is taking as many steps and measures that they possibly can to try and make sure we don’t reach Day Zero,” said Gabrielle Bolton, spokeswoman for the five-star Belmond Mount Nelson hotel. “Day Zero,” is term referring to the day when a city’s water supply runs out.  This event could happen to any city anywhere in the world.


What can you do? You can donate to to help Cape Town raise money to import water or build more desalination plants for residents. You can write and encourage your local Congresspeople to shed light on Cape Town’s plight. You can recognize and talk about climate change, the key component in this crisis.  


As you brush your teeth or shower, keep in mind those who no longer have that luxury. Be mindful, be proactive, be aware. The effects of climate change are happening everywhere, and it is our mission to know ourselves and our world.