Africa Energy Indaba

Climate Change Is about To Claim It’s First City in Africa – Cape Town

The extreme parameters of climate change are being extended around the world. The City of Cape Town has been caught off guard and is set to run out of water within the next two months. In the past years the rains would arrive just in time, but now they stay away. Despite an extensive drive by the City Council to reduce water consumption, the City finds itself staring the down the barrel of the inevitable – NO WATER AT ALL.

Yet as the ground zero date is brought forward, one gets the distinct impression that the City Planners do not seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation. The most recent action by the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille, indicates a mayor in sense disarray. On the one hand she is trying to recoup lost income from reduced water consumption by implementing a R150 a month levy. On the other hand, she has announce that the City will be moving towards Level 6B water restrictions, which sets a new target of 50litres of water per person per day. Neither of the two initiatives is going to hold water. It is too late.

While the City communicates that it fully understands the risks and has set water resilience as its top priority, why was water production and sourcing not part of the mix all along? Drilling for aquifers on the Cape Flats only started this week while the roll out of desalination containerise systems is yet to begin. Water reclamation initiatives have barely started at a number of water treatment works. What about the necessary piping and pumping infrastructure to get the water to storage for distribution?

Surely the focus should now also shift to mitigating the risk of the impending fall out. The negative economic impact speaks for itself. The everyday life around a ground zero situation can create scary human behavior and have serious health implications. It is a time for clear thinking and planning for the worst possible scenario. All emergency and health services need to be mobilized and ready. Engaging with organizations like UN Disaster Management and other specialist disaster management organisations must be a priority. The military can offer much relief while government and other provinces need to be engaged for assistance. Yet is this being done?

One gets the sense that the leadership in Cape Town has been in a state of ‘relaxed avoidance’ when it comes to climate change – like ‘it is not going to happen to us’ and, ‘we have it under control’…..yeah right! It is ignorance on a grand scale and they have let their people down. Will they again fail their people in terms of disaster management?

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

6 Comments

  1. Relaxed avoidance..cognitive dissonace and sheer denial. I am new to Cape Town and when I discuss the reality and seriousness with long term Capetonians, I am labelled “negative”. Heads deep in the sand, apparently an attitude shared by those responsible for actioning plans to mitigate this looming disaster.

  2. It’s very annoying to see that our City and Province are run by typical political idiots with little or no basic intelligence. The growing looming state of water shortages due to climate change made its fundamental impact a long long time ago, but even if the CoCT had connected with reality 8 yrs ago, huge improvements could have been made. Just having basic desalination plants would have given us a new lease on life. We should have been encouraged to restrict our water usage to 15/20 litres per person per day at least 8 yrs ago.

  3. Kipkirui Daniel Rono on

    Water is life,I wonder why Cape town is running short of water yet south Africa has one of the biggest rivers in the world,that is Orange river,though am not well versed with South African geographical features I still believe that river Orange can serve many towns in South Africa,Cape Town city being one of them,we should not blame global warming just because of what we can mitigate,Most countries in Africa are in pure desert but water in their cities have never been a Problem.Algiers,Rabat,Tunis,Tripoli,Cairo,Khartoum,Alexandria among others are in hotter places with no rivers safe for Cairo Khartoum and Alexandria but their city dwellers know how to utilize this important resource.

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Green Building Africa promotes the need for net carbon zero buildings and cities in Africa. We are fiercely independent and encourage outlying thinkers to contribute to the #netcarbonzero movement. Climate change is upon us and now is the time to react in a more diverse and broader approach to sustainability in the built environment. We challenge architects, property developers, urban planners, renewable energy professionals and green building specialists. We also challenge the funding houses and regulators and the role they play in facilitating investment into green projects. Lastly, we explore and investigate new technology and real-time data to speed up the journey in realising a net carbon zero environment for our children.

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