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Cape Town’s Muslims Pushing Back Day Zero: Awqaf SA’s Water Conservation Project

Cape Town, situated at the foot of Africa, is the southernmost city in a water-stressed region. Graced by a Mediterranean climate of hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters, Cape Town has always been dependent on its winter rainfall to get through the dry months of October to April. Already victim to drought cycles, the Western Cape – the area surrounding Cape Town – has been hit by three years of below-average rainfall and deepening climate change, exacerbated by the El-Nino-La-Nina effect, the warming or cooling of the Pacific, which impacts on global weather systems. An example of how devastating the drought has been is indicated by average rainfall figures at Cape Town International Airport. Whilst the normal average precipitation per annum has been just over 500mm, this year saw only 120mm rain falling, and the dams reflecting only 30% of capacity at winter’s end. Coupled with political bickering by the Democratic Alliance (DA), which governs the region, and the African National Congress (ANC), which controls national government, the 6 million citizens of the Cape have been the victims. Warnings about Cape Town running out of water due to increasing demands and population densities have been circulating since the 1970s, and more recently, in 1990 and 2007, when it was finally predicted that if something was not done about increasing capacity, the city’s taps would run dry between 2012 and 2015. Running on models that Cape Town would only see its ‘Day Zero’ in 2022, the city authorities did institute water savings measures, but arrogantly spurned all offers of desalination (Cape Town is surrounded by ocean) and aquifer mining (the region is rich with subterranean aquifers). If that was not enough, the national government failed to grant tenders to increase and strengthen dam walls in the region, something that would have most certainly alleviated the problem. The citizens of the Cape blame the politicians squarely for the water crisis. As a water expert said: water shortages are not the result of poor rainfall, but bad human management. This resulted in the city mayor, Patricia de Lille, conjuring up the ghastly ‘Day Zero’ campaign, centered on the panicked fear of the city’s taps running dry by April this year, and people having to queue for water at points guarded by the military. However, with Capetonians making heroic efforts to save water (each person is only allowed to use 50 litres a ...

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