20th September 2018
After her city suffered a record drought, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says what befell the oldest city in South Africa should serve as a warning to vulnerable cities across the African continent.
“There is no room to make mistakes,” stresses Patricia as she spoke in an interview with Water Journalists Africa at the just ended Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) that brought together leaders from states and regions, cities, business, investors and civil society in San Francisco, California USA
“You just have to do things right the first time,” Patricia said.
She was referring to African cities’ authorities who she told to start, “building cities with not just one water reticulation system but two,” so that they have, “one system for waste water and another one for clean water.”
Cape Town has been facing a long drought, the worst in 100 years. The drought that started in 2016 dried up six rainwater-filled reservoirs which the city depends on.
Early this year, Down To Earth, the magazine that the India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) publishes warned that Cape Town is not the only city facing a water crisis.
According to the magazine’s analysis at least 200 cities across the world including Nairobi are fast running out of water and 10 metropolitan cities are moving quickly towards Day Zero, a day when most of the taps will be turned off.
But Patricia said her city is out of woods now.
“We have been able to survive it, “notes Patricia, the cape town’s outgoing mayor, further stressing that through their engagement with communities, “our dams are 65 percent full, compared to 35 percent last year.”
She insisted that cities must, “start building green buildings right from scratch,” in order not to suffer such a disaster.
A green building, according to the World Green Building Council is an environmentally- conscious structure that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on climate and natural environment.
Efficient use of water and energy is one of the features that make a building ‘green’. Green buildings produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions which could help combat climate change.
During the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), the World Green Building Council launched a net zero carbon buildings commitment.
At this occasion world leaders including city mayors committed to save up to 209 million tonnes of carbon emission majorly through construction of green buildings.
During the summit, it was declared that over 70 big cities, home to some 425 million citizens, are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, including Accra, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mexico City.
These actions alone will lead to a 2.5 percent cut of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and the avoidance of 12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050.
This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.