As Day Zero nears, Cape Town’s drought is a stark reminder: climate change can cause conflict

“But believe me, once you factor in cooking, all the water your dog slurps out of the bowl and onto the floor, and the occasional mini shower while standing over a bucket so you can reuse the water to flush the toilet, there’s not a lot left over.” In late January, Helen Zille, the head of the provincial government warned that if the taps do run dry, it would be "the disaster above all disasters".
Cape Town accesses its water from six major reservoirs that can collectively store 898,000 megalitres of water.
Day Zero occurs when the system’s stored water drops to 13.5 per cent of capacity.
David Olivier, a postdoctoral research fellow at Global Change Institute, says in 2015 the city of Cape Town was allocated 60 per cent of the Western Cape’s water supply system with nearly all the rest going to agriculture and livestock.
While there’s no suggestion that the situation in Cape Town will lead to conflict, that may not always be the case.
Something that Francesco Femia, co-president of the Centre for Climate Change and Security in the United States, says comes down to a crucial issue: climate change is not regarded as a national security issue in most places.
And Femia says water shortages will contribute to an increased likelihood of conflict unless major steps are taken by governments and international communities.
In the United States, the situation has reached a point where the country no longer has a set fire season.
National guards are brought in from other states and federal resources devoted to putting out the fires are not usually enough.
But are governments completely unprepared for the threat of climate change and water shortages, especially in growing, densely populated cities such as Cape Town?

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