Written by: Clara Rose, Intern
Today, Cape Town, South Africa is in the midst of its worst drought in 30 years (Source). As climate change worsens, so do natural disasters. Unfortunately, droughts as significant as Cape Town’s are expected to occur more frequently in the future. In addition, the people most vulnerable to climate change are also generally the poorest and would be the most negatively impacted (Source).
In effort to conserve what remains of the freshwater supply, city officials have allocated 50 liters of water per person each day (Source). Restaurants have swapped out reusable plates and utensils for disposable ones, and hotels are encouraging quick showers by removing drain plugs to discourage baths.
‘Day Zero’ is the hypothetical date when the water reservoir is so low that taps will be turned off. Locals will have to use water from community taps or springs (Source). This date is subject to change depending on Cape Town’s rainfall and water usage. Either way, officials are trying to delay this day as much as possible. No one knows how long this drought could last, but it is vital to prepare for the worst.
Despite this, it is still okay for tourists to visit Cape Town. In fact, it is encouraged (Source). Many Capetonian companies rely on tourism to stay in business, making it more detrimental for travelers to cancel their trip than to stay and consume a small amount of water. Since such a small amount of tourists make up the population, (Source) the impact they will have on the drought is negligible.
Until there is a solution, we can each do our part to help reduce climate change. We can reduce our meat and dairy consumption, minimize the amount of ‘stuff’ we buy, and swapping reusable products for disposable, especially plastics. Every person can help Cape Town as it overcomes the drought, not just local residents. Reducing climate change reduces pollution as well as extreme weather and natural disasters.