Cape Town

Cape Town’s Resilience Journey

Cape Town, located in the Western Cape province, is the legislative capital of South Africa and the second most populous city in the country. Cape Town’s rapid, ongoing growth is intensifying the range of challenges it already faces, including high levels of unemployment, substance abuse, and crime. Cape Town needs to overcome its inequality, a legacy of the former apartheid system, requiring continued focus on physical and economic infrastructure as well as human capital development.

Cape Town is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which are expected to become more frequent and intense. The extreme shock of the drought from which Cape Town is emerging has tested the adaptive capabilities of the city-region since 2015. It was during this period that city government contemplated the prospect of turning off parts of the water supply network, a scenario that came to be known as Day Zero. Capetonians responded to the challenge, driving down water use by over 50% compared with pre-drought levels of consumption.

Cape Town is increasingly characterized by informality, with over 200 informal settlements established in the city. The challenges of day-to-day stresses and intermittent shocks are exponentially higher for individuals living in these settlements lacking formal tenure, which have insufficient public space and facilities, inadequate access to municipal services, poor accessways, and non-compliance with planning and building regulations. The City of Cape Town has various initiatives to re-block informal settlements, aiming to create a safer public realm with access for emergency vehicles and safe and convenient paths for pedestrians – and, where possible, to make open space for essential community facilities in advance of formal upgrading.

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News and Resources

Speaker Series # 8 – Urban Heat: Cities Taking Action

Speaker Series # 8 – Urban Heat: Cities Taking Action

Cities are heating up at twice the rate of global average warming due to the urban heat island effect and rapid urbanization. With more cities facing record high temperatures and heatwaves ...
The Art of Reflective Learning in Cape Town – Protecting the Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Art of Reflective Learning in Cape Town – Protecting the Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cape Town, South Africa responded quickly to the resilience test by COVID-19 using the lessons it had learned during the water crisis it experienced in 2017 and 2018, focusing attentions on the ...
Lessons from African slums: How to include informal settlements in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts?

Lessons from African slums: How to include informal settlements in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts?

Cramped conditions, poor sanitation, and insufficient health facilities are raising Covid-19 risks for Africa’s slum dwellers who are often forced to break lockdown rules to work and feed their ...

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