South Africa declares drought a national disaster

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa has declared a

national disaster over the drought afflicting southern and

western regions including Cape Town, though the city pushed back

its “Day Zero”, the day the city’s taps will run dry.


The flow of running water in the port city of four million has

been affected by a wider pattern of climate change seen around

the country including the Western Cape, where Cape Town is

located, the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces.


Supplies have yet to recover from an El Nino-triggered

drought two years ago, heralding a potential shortage that could

hit industrial and agricultural output.


The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional

Affairs said after re-evaluating the magnitude and severity of

the drought that it had reclassified it as a “national

disaster”. The department had said last week it was close to

making such a declaration.


Cape Town, whose oceanfront location is a major tourist

draw, has pushed back its designated “Day Zero”, when residents

will have to start queuing for water, to June 4 from May 11,

with officials citing a decline in water usage by residents.


Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said that over the past week, water

consumption in Cape Town had declined to 526 million litres per

day. This was the first time the daily average has been kept

under 550 million litres, he said, citing city efforts to

regulate the flow of water and residents’ cooperation with

official appeals to curb their consumption.


Cape Town hotels have asked guests not to use baths and to

limit showers to two minutes or less, while some restaurants are

switching to disposable cups and ditching table linen.



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