#WaterScarcity: Hanekom calls on travellers to keep saving water as Cape Town tops world's 20 most at risk cities

2018-03-09 06:30 - Selene Brophy
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Picture: iStock

Cape Town - After months of underlying panic about taps running dry, the impending Day Zero which has yoyo-ed from April, to May to June - has been moved to 2019.  

Good news for both locals and travellers to the popular tourist destination. However, Level B6 water restrictions remain in place.

Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, back in the driving seat after President Ramaphosa's cabinet reshuffle, says he welcomes the announcement that continued water-savings in the province have resulted in Day Zero being avoided in 2018.

UPDATE: Cape Water Update: Water consumption reduced by 60% in 3 years, no Day Zero in 2018

“The tourism sector is a critical contributor to South Africa’s economy and GDP.  It is responsible for the creation of over 700 000 direct jobs and supports thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises across the country.  The news of this delay will allay concerns of both international and domestic travellers and will reinforce our stance that South Africa’s tourism sector remains open for business,” says Hanekom.

“Water-savings must remain a part of our long-term strategy to avoid Day Zero in its entirety and we encourage all travellers to support the #WaterWiseTourism movement and adhere to the water restrictions that remain in place in the Cape Town.

Contribute to responsible tourism

While Hanekom recognised upcoming winter rainfall remains unpredictable, he commended travellers and citizens for meeting the challenge by lowering their consumption and ultimately contributing to responsible tourism.

“I urge all travellers and citizens alike not to relax their water-saving efforts," says Hanekom.

Because the reality is that Cape Town currently tops the World Wildlife Fund’s list of cities most at risk of water shortages. The other 19 cities come from countries as far apart as Chile and China.

The list was compiled using data from the WWF Water Risk Filter on average conditions (supply versus demand), recent droughts (past three years), and future projections (to 2050) as well as Urban Blueprint Data from The Nature Conservancy.

This list is not a prediction but it is definitely a clear wake-up call. 

Like Cape Town, these cities urgently need to think about water resilience under conditions of climate change and address water risks by reducing demand, considering water allocations, strengthening water governance, and financing green and grey infrastructure.

Critically, all cities need to address water access as an issue of social justice to ensure that the poor have access as well as the wealthy. And as an environmental issue to ensure that enough water is left for nature to thrive.

#WaterScarcity: Cape Town has a new water mascot and thankfully it's nothing like Splash!

 Top 20 cities by average depletion, drought and projected future water discharge

1. Cape Town, South Africa

2. Tel Aviv, Israel

3. Valparaíso, Chile

4. Amman, Jordan

5. Havana, Cuba

6. Oxnard, USA

7. Santa Barbara, USA

8. Agadir, Morocco

9. Casablanca, Morocco

10. Tunis, Tunisia

11. Bathinda, India

12. Meerut, India

13. Tbilisi, Georgia

14. Madrid, Spain

15. João Pessoa, Brazil

16. Santiago, Chile

17. Chengdu, China

18. San Diego, USA

19. Gurgaon, India

20. Siliguri, India

(Source: WWF South Africa.)

*WWF SA compiled this Water File in collaboration with WWF offices in Mexico, Spain, Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil, the USA and Australia.*All population figures, barring Seville, are from “The World Cities in 2016” published by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Figures have been rounded up.