South Africa’s has declared a national disaster over the country’s devastating drought. Although Cape Town has pushed back day zero – the day that the city runs out of water – until June 4, the country re-assessed the magnitude of the drought and determined that it has reached disaster proportions.
A drought triggered by El Nino and driven by climate change has ravaged parts of the country, with the city of Cape Town, home to over 4 million, facing a water shortage that will require residents to line up to obtain water rations.
Water consumption in South Africa has declined by about 139 million gallons per day thanks to residents who have worked hard to reduce usage. Residents are asked to use just 13 gallons of water a day. The hospitality industry has also gotten into the fight by asking hotel guests to keep showers under 2 minutes, and restaurants have stopped using linens and glassware to help reduce laundry needs.
Even still, on June 4, residents will need to line up at military-guarded locations to obtain water rations. There are also fears that the ongoing drought could harm the country’s industrial and agricultural output. Declaring the situation a national disaster allows the central government to take over relief efforts, which also means more money is available to address it.