Africa

Drought-hit Cape Town rejoices at rainfall

dried out tree trunks on sand Image copyright AFP/Getty images
Image caption Theewaterskloof Dam has less than 20% of its water capacity and Capetonians are feeling the strain

When the forecasts turned out to be true and rain fell from the skies, the residents of Cape Town in South Africa rejoiced, thanked God and stood outside to feel the water on their skin.

In the drought-hit city, Friday night's 8mm (0.3 inches) was long-desired.

Residents of the city have been under orders to save water meticulously to avoid the city's taps running dry.

There is a very real chance that Cape Town will simply run out of water.

The city has had low rainfall for three years.

In January, local authorities slashed residents' water allowance to 50 litres (88 pints) each a day. That's enough for a very short shower and just one flush of the toilet when other needs - including just one load of the washing machine a week - are taken into account.

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So the rainfall on Friday came as a boon to many who saw their chance to store some extra water, for watering plants, flushing toilets or cleaning.

Some people in Cape Town took the moment to feel thankful for the feel of the rain on their skin.

One pastor, who had led prayer for rain in Cape Town, said his prayers had been answered.

"It's a confirmation that I am a true prophet and whatever that I have promised Cape Town has come to pass," Paseka "Mboro" Motsoeneng said, complaining that the media had not taken his prayer seriously.

Sadly for residents, it is unlikely that the shower will lift the city's water woes.

They have been watching the date of the city's "Day Zero" move for several months. That's the day when taps will be switched off to private homes and residents will have to go to collection points for rationed water.

Now, instead of April, "Day Zero" is projected to arrive on 11 May.

But it is because farmers around the city have been using less water - not because of that small amount of rain.

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