In 2018, the city of Cape Town, South Africa, was close to the “Day Zero”, requiring all taps to be shut off and citizens to fetch a daily 25 litre per person. Though the day-zero was avoided, it is estimated that, at the current rate, South Africa will experience a 17% water deficit by 2030 if no action is taken to respond to existing trends. Lessons learned during that drought crisis have been valuable for the city to manage the short-term COVID-19 implications and design long-term solutions towards greater water resilience. As a result of a multi-stakeholder policy dialogue involving 100+ stakeholders from the city of Cape Town and South Africa, this report assesses key water risks and governance challenges in Cape Town, and provides policy recommendations towards more effective, efficient and inclusive water management building on the OECD Principles on Water Governance. In particular, the report calls for strengthening integrated basin governance, transparency, integrity, stakeholder engagement, capacities at all levels of government, financial sustainability and for advancing the water allocation reform to better manage trade-offs across multiple users.
Water is essential for economic growth, human health, and the environment. Yet governments around the world face significant challenges in managing their water resources effectively. The problems are multiple and complex: billions of people are still without access to safe water and adequate sanitation; competition for water is increasing among the different uses and users; and major investment is required to maintain and improve water infrastructure in OECD and non-OECD countries. This OECD series on water provides policy analysis and guidance on the economic, financial and governance aspects of water resources management. These aspects generally lie at the heart of the water problem and hold the key to unlocking the policy puzzle.