Risk of 'Day Zero' Drought Seen Rising Again in South Africa

Cape Town faces an 80% higher chance of another 'Day Zero' drought by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising at current rates, as the South African city races to safeguard water supplies, writes Kim Harrisberg for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The climate modelling systems used in the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed a drought as severe as Day Zero could occur two or three times in a decade in southwestern South Africa. The study also showed that the 2018 drought was made five-six times more likely by man-made climate change. The Cape Town water crisis was a period of severe water shortage in the Western Cape region which peaked during mid-2017 to mid-2018 when water levels hovered between 15 and 30% of total dam capacity.

InFocus

Theewaterskloof Dam, located on the Sonderend River and the largest source of water for Cape Town, during the height of the 'Day Zero' water crisis (file photo).

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