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The Financial Express

SA declares Cape Town drought a ‘national disaster’

| Updated: February 15, 2018 09:49:53


Dried out branches are seen amongst caked mud at Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa, January 20, 2018. (REUTERS) Dried out branches are seen amongst caked mud at Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa, January 20, 2018. (REUTERS)

South African government has declared a national disaster over the drought that has been hitting the southern and western regions including Cape Town for months.

The government made the announcement after reassessing the ‘magnitude and severity’ of the three-year water crisis.

It has badly affected three of the country's nine provinces, says a BBC report.

However, Cape Town, whose picturesque oceanfront location is a major tourist draw, has pushed back to June 4 from May 11 its designated ‘Day Zero’, when residents will have to start queuing for water, with city officials citing a decline in water usage.

Just a matter of weeks ago, the date that Cape Town's taps were predicted to run dry was 12 April.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance (DA) in a tweet revealed that the average water use in Cape Town, a city of about four million people, was below 550 million litres. Two years ago, it was at more than a billion litres per day.

The decision to declare a national disaster means the central government - which is run by the African National Congress (ANC) - will now take responsibility for relief efforts.

According to South African news website eNCA, the co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen said last week more than 70 million rand (£4.2m; $5.8m) had been put aside to tackle the crisis in the Western Cape, as well as in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, two provinces which have garnered less headlines, but are also struggling with the effects of the drought.

Cape Town hotels have asked guests not to use baths and to limit showers to two minutes or less, while some restaurants are switching to disposable cups and dispensing with table linen, reports Reuters news agency.

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