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Cape Town's "Day Zero" experience – the prospect of dam levels dropping dangerously low, taps running dry and water rations being distributed from public collection points – speaks powerfully to the urgency and complexity of climate change adaptation.
The recent arrival of the South African city's winter rains mean that dam levels have begun rising again and it's dodged the introduction of wholesale water rationing. For now.
Drought - Cape - Town - Edge - Threat
But the drought which pushed Cape Town to the edge isn't over yet. The threat of water rationing could still become a reality in 2019. And there will be other droughts, too, in Cape Town and beyond. Other cities that have experienced severe water scarcity include Melbourne in Australia, Los Angeles in the US, São Paulo in Brazil, Bolivia's capital city La Paz and Maputo in Mozambique, to name but a few.
Cities in the global South are especially hard hit by droughts. This is because the resources and capabilities to expand and upgrade water infrastructures serving these cities remain scarce. Many residents in these cities have very poor and limited access to water in "normal" times. Things become even more dire in water scarce situations.
Research - Climate - Adaptation - Decision - Making
My doctoral and post-doctoral research focused on climate adaptation decision making and governance in southern African cities. In other words, how are people organising to reduce the risks that higher temperatures, intense rainfall and dry periods pose to city residents?
I'll be sharing my findings at the Adaptation Futures conference, which is being held in Cape Town from June 19 to 21. It will be the first time that the international gathering of climate adaptation experts and practitioners will take place on the African continent.
Research - Lessons - City - Climate - Extremes
My research suggests three lessons for any city looking to prepare for and manage climate extremes. These centre on preparation, leadership and an understanding that adaptation requires both...
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