Cape Town's water crisis has lessons for big cities in dry places


Cape Town is suffering a severe drought, with dire warnings that South Africa’s spectacular port city’s water supply will run out as soon as April 12. It’s the city’s worst drought for 100 years and authorities are urging the city’s 3.7 million people to cut down on water usage.

Help us report on the water crisis.

Are you in Cape Town, or do you know anyone who is? Can you share your experience of the water shortage or put us in touch with others who can?

Can you contribute your research, experience or expertise on the current situation in Cape Town and its background?

Can you help us keep abreast of, and verify, developments?

Stark warning have been issued that if the city’s supply runs out it will face a “disaster.” Cape Town is one of southern Africa’s wealthiest cities but inequality is stark and government corruption remains a problem. The 2011 census found that more than 20 percent of the city’s population did not live in “formal dwellings” and sanitation causes frequent problems for communities in the largely black townships ringing the city.

How did it get this far?

The drought has environmental and political dimensions. The whole of Southern Africa was affected by a particularly severe El Nino phenomenon, but Cape Town appears to be in greater danger of running out of water than other cities.

Read more from a Cape Town University series here.

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How is it affecting different communities?

The economic disparity in the city, and sanitation problems suffered in poor areas, means that some people are likely to be more vulnerable to the effects of the drought than others. We want to look into whether this is the case.

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