At the end of April, the South African city of Cape Town may become the world’s first major city to run out of water. The city has spent the last three years in a severe drought, one so severe it normally would be expected only every 100 years or more.
South Africa has been urged to declare a state of national disaster unless the city’s four million residents drastically cut their water usage immediately. The local authorities may have to switch off the taps on April 12, if water usage isn’t reduced.
Most people in the country’s second city would have to source water for washing, cooking and drinking from one of 200 communal points around the city which would be guarded by soldiers and police in case the shortages led to violence.
Scientists estimate droughts like this will probably happen in the region much more often than once every 100 years and it may begin to happen all over the world as well. This has been attributed to climate changes.
Recent research suggests that even if the international community manages to keep global temperatures from rising more than the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2° C (3.6° F), the changes already set into motion will leave at least a quarter of the world’s land more arid that it already is. Other research has suggested that hot weather will become more common, with 74% of the population experiencing dangerous heat waves by 2100.
Other cities have been advised to use Cape Town as a lesson and therefore predict and prepare against drought in the future.