Cape Town’s Resilience Story

With an unemployment rate above its historical average, born disproportionately by the city’s youth, Cape Town has clear resilience priorities. A city with a greater number of opportunities for its citizens is a city that will be more resilient to acute shocks and chronic stresses. Unemployment is a key driver of poverty, and continues to exacerbate existing socio-economic inequality, as well as substance abuse and crime. Unemployment also undermines the tax and income base of the government and increases the cost of basic and social services, forcing the government to do more with fewer resources.

Climate change is furthermore a major stress and Cape Town is particularly vulnerable to its impacts, which are expected to become more frequent and intense. The city, as well as the surrounding provincial region, is currently confronted with a severe drought, a shock event, with recent annual rainfall levels being among the lowest in recorded history. Demonstrating their resilient character, the people of Cape Town have responded to the possibility of what has come to be known as ‘Day Zero’ by curtailing water consumption by more than 50% compared with pre-drought consumption levels.

Cape Town is increasingly characterised by informality, with over 200 informal settlements having been established in the city. The challenges of daily stresses and intermittent shocks are exponentially higher for individuals living in these settlements. Informal settlements are characterised by a lack of formal tenure, insufficient public space and facilities, inadequate access to municipal services, poor access ways, and non-compliance with planning and building regulations. The City has various initiatives to re-block informal settlements that will, among other things, aim to create a safer public realm, access for emergency vehicles, safe and convenient paths for movement on foot and, where possible, open space for essential community facilities that may precede formal upgrading processes.

SHOCKS AND STRESSES
  • Climate Change
  • Crime / Violence
  • Cyber Attack
  • Drought
  • Drug / Alcohol Abuse
  • Fire
  • Informal Housing / Settlements
  • Infrastructure Failure
  • Lack of Social Cohesion
  • Poverty
  • Rainfall Flooding
  • Riot / Civil Unrest
  • Traffic Congestion
  • Unemployment

Meet The Chief Resilience Officer

Cape Town's CRO

Craig Kesson is the City of Cape Town Executive Director for Corporate Services as well as the Chief Resilience Officer, in partnership with the 100 Resilient Cities Programme. He has worked in several senior roles in city management and has advised a number of metro governments. He previously served as the National Director of Research for South Africa’s Official Opposition. He is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu Natal, the University of Stellenbosch Business School, the University of Liverpool, and the University of Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar. His specialisations are in public policy and strategy; project portfolios, and operations modelling. He is the co-author with Mayor Patricia De Lille of a book on the nature of city leadership and management which was released in August 2017.

Snapshot of Cape Town

  • 4,004,793

    population as of 2016

Around the World

Explore cities facing similar resilience challenges to Cape Town.

  • Climate Change
  • Crime / Violence
  • Cyber Attack
  • Drought
  • Drug / Alcohol Abuse
  • Fire
  • Informal Housing / Settlements
  • Infrastructure Failure
  • Lack of Social Cohesion
  • Poverty
  • Rainfall Flooding
  • Riot / Civil Unrest
  • Traffic Congestion
  • Unemployment

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