Water Crisis: Cape Town to introduce emergency water schemes

The declaration of the state of emergency was made a week after Cape Town's mayoral committee recommended level-4 water restrictions amid fears of a drier winter for Cape Town.

Residents have been urged to use no more than 100 litres (22 gallons) of water a day. The city, a major worldwide tourist attraction, is instructing people to severely restrict water use because of the area's worst drought in more than a century.

Cape Town's drought is very inconvenient but elsewhere in Africa, notably Somalia, prolonged drought is displacing families and killing children, with starvation threatening in several African countries, particularly those hit by conflict.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says the objective of declaring a disaster zone is not to frighten residents, but to allow the province to shortcut the process of reprioritising the budget.

"The disaster declaration will accelerate the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre's Project "Avoiding Day Zero", the Province's strategy to ensure that taps do not run dry", said Premier Zille.

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The crisis mirrors a countrywide crisis past year when townships ran dry and residents of major cities staged collections of bottled water, which was donated and trucked across South Africa. Zille's statement added that drilling into the Table Mountain aquifer will also take place.

The city of almost 4 million people is in its low tourist season.

The UN assesses that more than 40 million individuals have been influenced by the dry season that was brought on by the El Nino atmosphere pressure changes an high temperatures.

Mounting warnings in recent months have failed to curb water use. It noted that the last 10 percent of a dam's water is mostly unusable because of mud, weeds and debris.

Cape Town in one of South Africa's main tourist destinations, but the peak of the tourist season comes later in the year. The designation gives more power to the province to direct resources to the water crisis.

  • Rita Burton