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Listen: “The Cape Town situation is very dire” – Professor Larry Swatuk, author of Water in Southern Africa, on Day Zero

 
When it comes to water, we are fed a daily diet of doom and gloom, of a looming crisis: wars of the future will be over water; nearly one-billion people lack access to clean water; river basins are closed so there is no more water to be allocated despite ever-growing demand; aquifers are overdrawn to such an extent that a global food crisis is just around the corner and major cities, such as Bangkok and Mexico, are sinking. And let us not forget about pollution or vector-borne diseases.

The challenges for sustainable water management are massive.

Yet, as shown in this book, there are many positives to be drawn from the southern African experience. Despite abiding conditions of economic underdevelopment and social inequality, people rise to the challenge, oftentimes out of necessity and through self-help, but sometimes through creative coalitions operating at different scales – from the local to the global – and across issue areas – from transboundary governance to urban water supply.

This first volume in the Off-Centre series argues that we must learn to see water and the region differently if we are to meet present challenges and better prepare for an uncertain, climate-changing future.

Larry A. Swatuk is Professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo, Canada; Extraordinary Professor at the Institute for Water Studies, University of Western Cape, South Africa; and Research Associate, Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). Prior to joining the University of Waterloo, he was Associate Professor of Natural Resources Governance at the Okavango Research Institute, Maun, Botswana.

Listen to Swatuk’s recent discussion with Marc Montgomery on the “dire” situation of Cape Town’s water crisis here.

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