In the past few months, South Africa’s historic city of Cape Town has endured the worst water shortage in over 100 years. The city’s fresh water reservoirs dipped below the 10% mark, forcing the local government to implement increasingly stringent conservation efforts.

Compounding the city’s challenges, the worst storm in over 30 years struck the city on Tuesday night, causing widespread casualties and property damage. While heavy rainfall prompted alarms over flash flooding, it did little to replenish the city’s fresh water supply. City officials have stated that several years of consistent rainfall will be needed to restore reserves to safe levels.

On a recent visit to Cape Town, I had a chance to see the impoverished townships that will invariably suffer the brunt of the water shortages and storm damage. Here’s hoping that the storm recovery efforts will lead to a more sustainable policy of economic development in the region, including the construction of more durable housing, innovative rainwater collection techniques, and a greater deployment of water conservation technologies. 

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