Day Zero for Cape Town

by inaarahaydari on February 20, 2018 - 9:06pm

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that if Cape Town’s water supply keeps decreasing, the city will face Day Zero, which means all taps will be turned off, in April. The evident cause of this water scarcity is climate change, as the city is vulnerable to more and more droughts, but Onishi and Sengupta, the authors, explain that there are many ways through which the city could have avoided this situation, especially while remembering that Cape Town was awarded the “adaptation implementation” prize for their water conservation methods. The authors actually believe that this was one of the main causes; it believed in its success so much that it ignored the warnings to increase their water supplies and diversify their sources, as the dams mainly depended on rainfall.  Another direct cause is that the national government is the one controlling water infrastructures, and it failed to limit its use. However, the authors highlight that the city also took time to find solutions to the water shortage. They explain that some remedies are to desalinate the water and increase the supply coming from groundwater, instead of depending on dams.  Citizens themselves stock up on water and the richer ones buy tanks to treat the water. One of the reason they believe this situation is an issue is because the tension is rising, and once Day Zero comes, it will be chaos. Although it will affect public health, as water is a basic need, social order is what worries the government the most. Because Cape Town is known for its deep social divisions, the authors worry about what could be done to make sure that there is no anarchy. They conclude by saying that almost half of the people do not meet the target limit of water supply per day, which means the situation has not quite dawned into people yet.

I believe both the national government and the city itself are to be held responsible for this. The right policies were not implemented at the right time and the government ignored the warning of the outside. Their main source of water, which are dams, are very vulnerable to the weather, and they failed to apply the precautionary principle. Also, it is not only the policies that must be held accountable for the water shortage, but also the awareness of the citizen about the situation. Up to 45% of the citizens do not need met the limit, and it is increasing as time flies. Although the citizens understand that their supplies are short, more severe sanctions should be applied so that the supply do not run out faster than planned. International and humanitarian aid will be needed in order to develop other sustainable sources of water. Neighbour countries have the responsibility to help and send in water supplies too. The international community in return, has the responsibility to keep the pressure and panic to a minimum so that if Day Zero comes, social order can be maintained as well as possible. It is important to calm the citizens and remind them that there is always constant efforts to ameliorate the situation. This shall be a wake up for many countries who might find themselves in similar situations as their vulnerability to droughts increase. It is specifically a reminder for African countries, who are not only living in dry countries, but who also have limited technologies. 

News article:


I have chosen to comment on your Summary because I found it very interesting. It was very shocking to read that a city is considering turning off all their taps, in other words, having a Day Zero. Climate Change is a major cause of Cape Town’s water problem. In Cape Town, it has become evident that Climate Change “has caused the usual dry spell to intensify significantly” (Gabbatiss, 2018).
I completely agree with your point of view in which Climate Change is the not the sole cause of this situation. Like you mentioned, I believe that both the government and the city are responsible for this resource exploitation and could have prevented it. The government did not implement the right policies and the right time to help the situation. On the other hand, the citizens were not aware of their actions and how it affected the water supply.

Gabbatiss, J. (2018, March 3). Cape town is approaching drought ‘day zero’, and climate change could be to blame. The Independent. Retrieved from

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