Learning from Day Zero

As part of our work on making resilience tangible, practical and relevant, we are supporting the development of film-based learning modules that consolidate reflections from key individuals involved in the response to the 2017-18 water crisis in Cape Town.


Following three consecutive years of poor rainfall, the city of Cape Town was in the midst of a severe water crisis. The city of 4 million people was projected to run out of water on 12 April 2018 – 'Day Zero'. A collective response from the residents of Cape Town helped avert this crisis.

There are many lessons to be learned from Cape Town’s water crisis about city governance, the management of water resilience, the importance of multi-stakeholder response, and the impact of an emergency on consumer behaviour.

The Cape Town Drought Response Learning Initiative (CTDRLI) has documented analyses and reflections of key individuals involved in the drought response, through in-depth filmed interviews.

The Resilience Shift has partnered with the CTDRLI to distil learnings from these filmed interviews into a modular toolkit of lessons. These lessons can be used by decision-makers to reflect on critical infrastructure resilience in their own cities – to better prepare for a crisis, and to craft a better response when a crisis does hit.

This project aims to promote systems thinking within cities, water companies and other stakeholders through informed reflection on the Cape Town case study. By articulating the interplay of social and environmental factors with critical infrastructure systems in an engaging format, the project aims to deepen an understanding of the multidimensional and complex dynamics – technical, financial, social, political, regulatory, fiscal, environmental – of infrastructure systems, particularly when under stress.

Project leaders

siddharth nadkarny

Siddharth Nadkarny
Project Leader

Siddharth is an urban planner with global experience on multi-disciplinary projects that enhance resilience for vulnerable urban communities.

How are we doing this?

Through a partnership with CTDRLI, we will develop products to share the learning from Cape Town’s 2017-18 water crisis. Learning materials will be piloted in different cities through workshops in the autumn of 2019 to understand how effective this method of experiential learning can be for critical infrastructure resilience.

What are the outputs?

We will distil key lessons from CTDRLI’s bank of 45 filmed interviews, captured by Cine South Studios, into five film-based modules based and supplementary learning material, made available to users on the Resilience Shift and CTDRLI websites for no cost.

Project Resources

Event Page

Event Report

Cape Town | Day Zero event report – Learning from Cape Town’s water crisis

Building a resilient future through water: Cape Town and the City Water Resilience Approach

As we focus on Cape Town for the Cape Town | Day Zero event, and in the run up to 100 Resilient Cities Urban Resilience Summit in Rotterdam, we invited 100RC’s Katrin Bruebach to contribute a guest blog on Cape Town and the City Water Resilience Approach.