We should always aim to learn from other people’s mistakes and our own successes. But, when we find ourselves in trouble of our own making, we need to learn from the experience, if only to avoid repeating it. Cape Town’s water crisis offers an opportunity for such reflection. It is an important learning opportunity that shows a lot about the challenges of managing water in our complicated country. It shows what can so easily happen to the biggest cities if details such as the variability and uncertainty of the climate and SA’s growing population and economy are ignored. A lesson from Cape Town that has already become clear is that it is very difficult to change human behaviour without making fundamental changes in their physical and social environment. People with gardens will water them; those who have toilets will flush them, repeatedly. I have documented in detail before why the city’s decision to delay investing in more water supply infrastructure and rely instead on demand mana...

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