While access to safe, reliable, affordable water for households remains crucial, there are other dimensions of water security beyond the immediate necessities of domestic consumption. In a water-scarce country like South Africa, these broader dimensions of water insecurity may limit development, health and livelihoods, making the problem of water access both technical and political.
Large areas of the Cape Flats were once seasonal wetlands, now lost to infilling and drainage for urban and agricultural development. Remaining wetlands are severely degraded. Many are entirely disconnected from surrounding natural areas and are slowly losing biodiversity value, but some can be rehabilitated, providing opportunities to bring back, or at least improve, highly threatened habitats and improve ecosystem connectivity.
Before agricultural and urban development, wetlands on the Cape Flats were mainly seasonal, drying up in the summer. Cycles of drought and flooding were crucial for natural wetland biodiversity. Today, seasonal wetlands have been infilled or changed to permanent systems, changing important lifecycle cues and threatening indigenous species including some that are endemic to the Cape.
As the medium of life, water is a boundless shapeshifter that patterns the Earth and all its living beings with its continuous cycles of ebb and flow. How do we shift our relationship to water? How do we learn, or rediscover, or reinvent in our current context how to restore health and take care of the water, so the water can heal and take care of us?
The story of Princess Vlei, one of the wetlands that makes up our Ramsar Wetlands City, is a quintessentially South African story, encompassing violence and dispossession as well as hope, healing and harmony… and some very feisty women.
In December 2022, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DFFE) issued coastal sewage discharge licenses for Cape Town’s three marine sewage outfalls, but has re-opened the public participation process due to public pressure and a number of appeals. Find out what you need to know to make an informed comment.