South Africa: A Drought-Stricken Cape Town Did Come Together to Save Water

Theewaterskloof Dam on 7 June 2016.

When people are called upon to rally around a "public good" such as conserving water, they are more likely to do so if they believe they are working together to achieve a common goal. Despite the finger-pointing and appearance of panic in drought-stricken Cape Town, citizens in this apparently divided city are showing unprecedented levels of co-operation.

As of February 2018, Cape Town's residents must cut their water consumption drastically, as the region's dams run critically low following the worst drought in a century. The daily ration is now down to 50 litres per person, per day.

The City also recently announced the possibility of Day Zero, the emergency measure it will take should dam levels drop to their last accessible 13.5%, when the municipality will cut all running water to homes and businesses. While critical services, such as hospitals, will receive running water, citizens will need to collect a daily ration of 25 litres of water per person from 200 communal delivery points around the city. At current water usage and dam levels, Day Zero is expected to arrive on 9 July.

But can Cape Town avoid Day Zero? This depends on whether...

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