The United Nations reports that over four billion people worldwide are suffering through severe water scarcity. This crisis poses a threat far greater than societal epidemics like unemployment and crime. When our water supply is completely depleted, we lose the ability to sustain ourselves in every respect. The most egregious example of this can be found in Cape Town. The South African capital now holds the distinction as being the first major city to run out of water. City without Water travels to the region to investigate how city officials are struggling to manage the crisis, and how citizens are fighting for their lives in the throes of endless drought.
The situation in Cape Town is dire. Rainfall levels are well below average, and the city's crisis management personnel are imposing strict restrictions on water usage. Residents are relegated to only 50 liters of water per day, or a little more than European citizens use to flush their toilets during a 24-hour period. The wealthy enjoy the luxury of purchasing bottled water to supplement these restrictions.
The impacts of the crisis are far reaching. Reduced water usage means diminished city revenues. As a result, consumer water bills have risen. This places an additional strain on poor families who are already struggling to make ends meet. There's also the worry of dwindling tourism dollars and the increased unemployment rates that follow. Left without sufficient access to clean water, the region is suffering widespread agricultural decay, public sanitation concerns, health-related epidemics, and environmental devastation.
Throughout the film, the filmmakers focus on the daily lives of destitute citizens who are desperate to have their voices heard. A series of city officials, political scientists and others speak to the necessity for an infrastructure overhaul to combat the crisis. Climate change has been a major culprit in propelling this crisis, they claim, but it's not the only one. The country's government and the international community at large have largely ignored the warning signs for many years.
City without Water is a harrowing portrait of an arid landscape, a rallying cry for change, and a wake-up call to other nations who may soon find themselves on the brink of a similar fate.