South Africa declares drought a national disaster

180131. Cape Town. An escavator is used to move the new desalination pump station into position at Strandfontein Pavillion. The site preparation for the Strandfontein desalination plant one of the City of Cape Town’s seven desalination projects is und

Cape Town is in the grip of a catastrophic three-year-long drought as sparse winter rains have failed to bring relief, and dam levels have dropped to dangerously low levels.

The City of Cape Town on Tuesday announced that Day Zero, when the city's taps run dry, has been pushed back to June 4 from May 11.

The city's goal is to reduce its total daily consumption of water to 450 million litres per day.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson also said that over the past week, water consumption in Cape Town reduced mainly due to the city's efforts to regulate the water flow and residents' cooperation to reduce consumption, Reuters reported.

It has been no easy task for Cape Town's residents.

A single toilet flush uses nine litres.

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Spokesman Hossam Imam said the minister screened a video about the drought crisis in Cape Town to send a clear message to the whole world to work hard to avoid having such kind of crises in the future.

Cape Town officials have said "economically essential" sites will be spared the shut-off on "Day Zero" as will impoverished informal settlements that already rely on communal taps.

People wait to collect water from a natural spring outlet in St James, a suburb in Cape Town, in January 2018.

But widespread drought has gripped large parts of the south and west of South Africa.

Rains over the weekend raised hopes that the situation would improve, but the downpours were neither heavy nor long enough to have an impact on the situation.

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