One City's Response to a record-breaking drought

Leonie Joubert & Gina Ziervogel

The three-year drought that hit Cape Town was the local expression of the global climate change emergency. It shows what happens when the normal demands of running a city, with its many development challenges, collide with a climate ‘shock’ like this one. The City of Cape Town was one of the most important players in responding to the drought, but running any city is complex, because its administration is made up of many different departments and people. Understanding what happens on a day-to-day operational level within a city administration, or how it does longer-term planning, can be opaque to those on the outside of the administration. During the emergency, the City and its residents responded in different ways. Many stories remained behind the closed doors of City administration processes.

 Day Zero is an opportunity to capture some of the perspectives and experiences of the various sectors as the water crisis played out. It explains the different roles, responsibilities, and responses in a way that helps citizens better understand how complex the process of urban water management and climate change adaptation is. The book documents these stories, not only so that Cape Town can better prepare itself for future droughts, but that other cities can learn from this experience.

Part of the story of the drought is what regular citizens and businesses did to respond. To complement the stories in the book, we would like to capture and share your stories to map out a fuller picture of the drought response. To do this, we need you to tell us more about what you did, what you learned, what you saw happen and how you have reflected on the drought. Please add your story, on the Share Your Story page.