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Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa

Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa

The term “day zero” describes a day when the entire Cape Town would not have water running in their taps. The targeted day zero was postponed after the authorities developed water restriction policies applied throughout the drought (Cape Town Faces “Day Zero,” n.d). These restrictions included banning non-essential use of water and any outdoor use. Cape Town citizens were also advised to flash their toilets using grey water; these requirements helped reduce water use per individual by 13 gallons. This was a significant level of water conservation because it helped minimize water wastage and carried people through the drought. After a slight increase in rainfall, “day zero” was averted. These measures were effective but were not enough to offset the effects of drought resulting from climate change. Mutambisi et al. (2021) have indicated that extreme weather phenomena like drought caused by climate change can best be solved by addressing issues causing climate change, like using climate-friendly energy and preserving forests and water sources. Therefore, while these approaches are effective in the short term, they cannot address climate change.

There is a connection between drought, water scarcity, and increased or decreased crime rates (Goin et al., 2017). Goin et al.’s (2017) research in California revealed that crime rates increased due to water scarcity. They argued that crime rates increased because of a change in daily patterns and the financial pressure related to drought. Therefore, using this research on California, one can conclude that crimes would have increased if the drought and water rationing continued. Society’s structure would have been affected because those in poor neighborhoods would suffer the most.

Although the government has the primary role of conserving the environment, conservation efforts should also be seen at the individual level. For instance, people should avoid wasting water. Also, society should ensure proper energy use because using fossil fuels and deforestation are destructive (Mutambisi et al., 2021). Overall, society should ensure the sustainable exploitation of natural resources. Notably, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources results in long-term consequences. These include loss of natural habitats and species extinction, increased health risks, degraded ecosystems, and increased risks of natural disasters (Lampert, 2019).


Cape Town Faces “Day Zero.” (n.d). The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved from–day-zero-/,to%20reach%2013%20percent%20capacity.

Goin, D. E., Rudolph, K. E., & Ahern, J. (2017). Impact of drought on crime in California: A synthetic control approach. PloS one, 12(10), e0185629.

Lampert, A. (2019). Over-exploitation of natural resources is followed by inevitable declines in economic growth and discount rate. Nature Communications10(1).

Mutambisi, T., Chanza, N., Matamanda, A.R., Ncube, R., Chirisa, I. (2021). Climate Change Adaptation in Southern Africa: Universalistic Science or Indigenous Knowledge or Hybrid. In: Oguge, N., Ayal, D., Adeleke, L., da Silva, I. (eds) African Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation. Springer, Cham.


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To start, read the two articles listed below and reflect upon the lecture on ecosystem services. Then, answer the personal reflection questions below.

Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa

Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town Faces “Day Zero” Links to an external site.

Day Zero Crisis Averted, For Now

1) What was Cape Town’s record on water conservation and sustainable use of a scarce resource? Was it enough to offset the effects of drought due to climate change?

2) If the drought and water rationing had continued in Cape Town, what do you imagine the effect would have been on the structure of their society? For example, how could this have affected crime rates?

3) What are the responsibilities of an individual to conserve resources, if any? What are the long-term consequences of failing to implement sustainable use of resources for individuals or society at large?

one paragraph for each question, do’nt have to be long

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