The 2017/18 drought in Cape Town, and the city’s countdown to Day Zero, when taps run dry, grabbed attention around the world. A city with a population approaching four million, and regularly ranked as a top holiday destination, faced the very real prospect that it might run out of water. Now the first decent rains for four years are replenishing the dams, the city is confident that it will avoid Day Zero until beyond 2019.
In the last issue of The World Today a team of water experts from the engineering consultancy Arup wrote: ‘It is hoped that the memory of the crisis will create the social and political environment for continuing reductions in water use and encourage increased spending on infrastructure.’
But has the political climate in South Africa changed sufficiently to prevent such policy failures being repeated?