The City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA) has now been deployed in cities worldwide. Cape Town, South Africa was the very first to use this approach to embed urban water resilience into the city’s systems.
The CWRA has helped cities around the world to respond to profound water issues and produce long-term solutions that address each of these dimensions of the resilience puzzle. At its heart the CWRA provides clear insights on the most effective sequencing and prioritisation with a water programme, helping clients to engage with the complexity of the water system and prepare for changes in demand and use. It helps unlock investment and funding for much needed water infrastructure. It adopts a nature-first ethos, prioritising interventions that don’t rely on hard infrastructure where natural factors can play a role. There are five key stages of the CWRA towards developing a city’s water resilience:
1. Understand the system
2. Assess urban water resilience
3. Develop an action plan
4. Implement the action plan
5. Evaluate, learn and adapt
Adopting a resilience approach helps stakeholders look at whole systems and how they impact on each other, particularly when parts of the system are struck by shock events. Viewing water in the context of the economy, urban development, ecosystem health, and the empowerment of stakeholders allows water leaders to examine water through multiple lenses at the same time, and to better understand the intersections between systems. The Cape Town Water Resilience Profile provides a comprehensive assessment of water management in the city. It evaluates the wide-ranging factors that impact water management and service provision, and assesses the impacts of water on all Capetonians. In this, the Profile builds on other recent work initiated by the City. It explores key themes first presented in the Cape Town Water Strategy of 2019, which captures many lessons from the drought and makes a firm commitment to a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to make Cape Town a truly water-sensitive city by 2040.
Using the City Water Resilience Approach framework we have created both a ‘city characterisation’ report mapping the city’s water resources and identifying elements impacting water resilience, and a ‘water resilience profile’, which details a series of actions that the city can take to address these. Resilience forms part of the vision for water in the new Cape Town Water Strategy. Cape Town is striving to be a water sensitive city by 2040 that optimises and integrates the management of water resources to improve resilience, and enhance competitiveness and liveability for the prosperity of its people. We are excited to review the results of the CWRF as they apply to Cape Town and to convert some of the insights gained into tangible new actions for the implementation plan of the strategy.