Cape Town, South Africa is set to become the first major city in the world to run out of water, and people are taking to social media to find ways to help. The municipal water supply will be mostly turned off on April 12, a dreaded day that is referred to as “Day Zero.”
The coastal city of Cape Town is the second largest urban region in South Africa. The population of Cape Town exploded over the past couple of decades, and has now reached over 4 million people.
Three of the driest years in almost a century, from 2015-2017, added to the already strained municipal infrastructure. Scientists are attributing this intense drought to man-made climate change, and warn that these events will become more frequent.
Piotr Wolski is a researcher in Climate and Hydrology at the University of Cape Town.
“There is the term of ‘new normal’ being thrown about, and in a way there’s a misconception about what this means,” Wolski told Futurism. “We’ll still have wet years, and we’ll have to cope with floods. But if these droughts are becoming more severe, more frequent, or longer, you have to make the water supply system a bit more robust, more resilient.”
Over the last week, a social media initiative to donate water to Cape Town has gained incredible momentum. What started out as a request for help on WhatsApp by East London resident Talita van der Heever has now become a full-blown phenomenon.
“My phone doesn’t stop ringing,” van der Heever told CNN. “Every time someone sends me a message on WhatsApp, by the time I finish reading it it’s already moved down another 100 messages.”
Drop-off locations were set up in East London and surrounding towns such as Durban and Johannesburg with the help of a disaster-relief charity called Gift of the Givers.
Teachers, students, farmers, and volunteers all across the country are collecting and transporting water to Cape Town. According to Gift of the Givers chairman Imtiaz Sooliman, donations are now starting to come in from outside of the country as well.
As this inspiring campaign continues to rapidly expand across the globe, a website and Twitter page have been created for the initiative. To make a donation or to see what you can do to help, visit “Water 4 Cape Town.”