CAPE TOWN: A water crisis is deepening in South Africa’s drought-stricken southwest.
It has dried up dams and led to water restrictions for residents and industry.
Now the clock is ticking to “Day Zero” – the day the taps will run dry in Cape Town. That is expected in mid-April.
“There was quite a lot of frustration in the city of Cape Town that people weren’t responding as strongly as they were hoping, so the communication coming out of the city of Cape Town began to get stricter and stricter, pushing people to fewer than 50 litres of water a day, ” said climatologist Simon Gear.
“But the truth of the matter is that if you want people to change behaviour you often have to hit them in the pocket. And so it is the very high tariffs around water that are probably going to drive more change than anything else.”
As locals struggle to cope with Cape Town’s worst drought in a century, the city’s tourism industry could also take a hit.
Around 10 million tourists visited Cape Town last year, drawn by iconic sights like Table Mountain, its long sandy beaches, and a clutch of nearby wine farms.
But now 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.
Though visitors are sympathetic to Cape Town’s plight, there are fears that people may stay away due to the inconvenience of water restrictions or because they don’t want to add to demand.
In a bid to limit the economic damage, which could spell jobs losses in a country with 25 per cent unemployment, SA Tourism, a government agency, will soon embark on a global roadshow to reassure potential visitors.
“We are a tough country, a resilient country and I am quite confident we will find our way around this,” said Sisa Ntshona, SA Tourism’s chief executive.