South Africa’s Western Cape declares drought disaster

South Africa’s Western Cape province has declared a drought disaster as it faces its worst water shortage in 113 years.

Provincial leader Helen Zille said water will be harvested by drilling boreholes to serve key points like hospitals in Cape Town.

The alert will last for three months but could be extended if the crisis persists, she said in a statement.

Southern African nations are reeling from a two-year drought.

South Africa’s

The UN estimates that over 40 million people have been affected by the drought that was caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon.

“The disaster declaration will accelerate… the province’s strategy to ensure that taps do not run dry,” Ms Zille said.

She also announced plans to use a mobile desalination plant and tap the natural aquifer under Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

Residents have also been urged not to use no more than 100 litres (22 gallons) of water a day.

Ms Zille said the disaster declaration will mean that authorities in the province can prioritise public funds for drought relief operations.

Two reservoirs in the Western Cape region are already completely dry according to official statistics.

The Karoo and West Coast areas of the Western Cape previously declared drought disasters in 2016, but Monday’s announcement extends the scope of those emergency measures to the entire province, the AFP news agency reports.