Cape Town is Running Out of Water

Access to water has always been challenging for people living in the informal settlements outside of Cape Town. Multiple families share one public water tap and a few public outhouses. They walk from their homes, collect water in pails and buckets, and bring it back to their houses to bathe, cook with, and wash their clothes. It’s an extremely arduous process and it is one that is about to get much worse.

Water Tap

After years of drought, Cape Town has run out of water. This week, residents were asked to use no more than 13.2 gallons of water per day. (The average American uses between 80 – 100 gallons per day.) On April 12, what is referred to as Day Zero, that amount will be reduced to 6.6 gallons per person. On that day, most water taps will be shut off. Residents will then have to get in line to collect their daily allotment from water distribution centers.

Capetonians have seen this day coming. There have been water conservation efforts, plans for more groundwater pumps, and desalination plants, but Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated. With little rain for three years, the water will most likely run out before any of these efforts can make a difference.

What this means for the people of Cape Town remains to be seen. How will this impact the economy, health, and agriculture? For Acacia Global, we are talking with our partners about their needs. Will the community gardens we support have water for their crops? Will the children and seniors we work with have enough water to drink? It’s a challenge that will, almost certainly, become a priority for all of us this year.

It should also be a wake-up call for all of us.