South Africa: cities without water

By the year 2050, a quarter of the every world’s cities will be facing water shortages. Cape Town is already running out of water now. But the catastrophe was foreseeable: politicians have ignored periods of drought and the rapidly growing population for too long.

South Africa is facing its drought of the century. Cape Town’s water supply is under threat because the metropolis is quenching its thirst with surface water alone. But climate change is making the weather more unpredictable and the reservoirs emptier. Those responsible are feverishly seeking a remedy. Can the worst still be averted?

Fear of social unrest, epidemics and the region’s economic collapse is spreading. Only through the discipline of the population, who have limited their water consumption 50 liters of water per day per head for months, has staved off “Day Zero,” the day when the taps are turned off and people can only draw water from public faucets. The lack of water throws the country’s social divisions into stark relief: rich South Africans can buy water, while poorer citizens cannot afford it. The filmmakers accompany a special police unit looking for people wasting water in the townships and meet farmers whose very existence is at stake. It is a race against time and a fight against political sleaze. Cape Town’s predicament is a lesson to the whole world: by 2050 one in four cities in the world will be affected by water shortages.

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