The devastation of torrential rains and flooding in northern Kenya grabbed the headlines last week. Cape Town, South Africa’s water crisis woke many people up to the reality of a permanent water shortage, as well as the city’s lack of preparedness and planning. Other African cities (Lagos, Accra, Addis Ababa) have faced recurrent water crises. Sustainable Water Partnership Director Eric Viala joined anchor Vincent Makori in-studio at Africa 54, Voice of America’s daily TV program for Africa, to discuss the issue.
To illustrate his points, Viala brought up the recent water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa.
“I think the first thing is about water is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Viala says. “In many African cities, there’s a lot that can be done to improve their capacity to measure how much water they have, where it is, who’s using it. Cape Town did a pretty good job measuring what they have and who’s using it, and they were able to predict the crisis and communicate about it.”
Viala also highlighted the collective responsibility of all water users to carefully consider the way we interact with water.
“We are the water users,” says Viala. “We are the people who cause water issues because we tend to pollute, we tend to waste water, just because we have to use water for our livelihoods. That’s also a solution that has to be looked into — how you can change the behaviors of water users.”