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.

Meet the Chief Resilience Officer

Craig Kesson

Chief Resilience Officer

Craig Kesson is the City of Cape Town Executive Director for Corporate Services as well as the Chief Resilience Officer. He has worked in several senior roles in city management and has advised a number of metropolitan governments. He previously served as the National Director of Research for South Africa’s Official Opposition.

Craig is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Stellenbosch Business School, the University of Liverpool, and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. His specializations are in public policy and strategy, project portfolios, and operations modelling. He is co-author with Mayor Patricia De Lille of a book on the nature of city leadership and management, which was published in August 2017.

Gareth Morgan

Director of Resilience

Gareth Morgan has been Director of Resilience since mid-2017 and led the development of the Cape Town Resilience Strategy. Following the recent severe Cape Town drought, he led the first in-city deployment globally of the City Water Resilience Framework and Approach. Earlier in his career, Gareth was a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of South Africa. His legislative interests were climate change, energy, and water. Gareth was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he graduated with an MSc in Environmental Change and Management and an MA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. He is an Archbishop Tutu Fellow of the African Leadership Institute. He has twice featured in the Mail & Guardian’s annual list of Top South Africans under the age of 35.

Impact stories

Cape Town