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Cape Town will run out of water in three months, Archbishop Makgoba warns

09 February 2018


People queue to collect water from a spring in a suburb of Capetown as fears over the water crisis grow

People queue to collect water from a spring in a suburb of Capetown as fears over the water crisis grow

THE Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, has called for an interfaith initiative of generative leadership to try to stem the current water crisis in Cape Town, the second largest city in South Africa and one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

In three months’ time, on 11 May, it is set to become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

“Leaders of the different faith communities who share a concern for all may, however, be the only societal leaders in Cape Town who can credibly make a call to these higher ends and bring us together as one people,” Archbishop Makgoba said in in a statement.

Archbishop Makgoba has now stepped in and called on all faith leaders in the city to bring leadership to the Cape Town water crisis. This comes after accusations of serious mismanagement, and strife in and among the different political parties about who is to blame for the woes brought on by the worst drought in a century.

Introducing the initiative, a statement said: “Cape Town, our Mother City, is facing a potentially catastrophic water shortage, putting lives, jobs, livelihoods, and businesses at risk. So far, we have not faced this growing crisis well, with fractures opening up at many levels, particularly between politicians and civil society.”

#DayZero is the day when taps will be turned off to a million homes in Cape Town, and water, restricted to 25 litres per person per day, can then only be collected from about 200 collection points. This month, the city set the target water consumption per person per day at 50 litres, as the average dam level for the whole of the Western Cape has dropped to just 23.6 per cent of its capacity.

Last weekend, speaking at a Water Justice conference organised by his diocese, Archbishop Makgoba said: “There is a beautiful significance to this crisis happening over Lent because it gives us time to reflect on our water usage.

“Cape Town is in a drought, and that’s the desert, then Day Zero could be the crucifixion, and the resurrection follows the crucifixion; so this, too, shall pass, but it requires working together.”

Earlier this month, the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum noted that “many people in the Western Cape and across South Africa have been living for many years under ‘Day Zero’ water conditions, yet only when the middle class and rich are potentially affected is it deemed an emergency, and heaven and earth is moved in an attempt to avoid it.

“In other words, it is OK for the poor to stand in line for water, but not the wealthy,” the statement concluded.

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