climate change

Keeping the Taps Running: How Cape Town Averted ‘Day Zero,’ 2017 – 2018

Leon Schreiber
Country of Reform
Internal Notes
originally published 2/21/2019

In 2017, Cape Town, South Africa, was on a countdown to disaster. An unprecedented and wholly unforeseen third consecutive year of drought threatened to cut off water to the city’s four million citizens. Faced with the prospect of running dangerously low on potable water, local officials raced against time to avert “Day Zero”—the date on which they would have to shut off drinking water to most businesses and homes in the city. Cape Town’s government responded effectively to the fast-worsening and potentially cataclysmic situation. Key to the effort was a broad, multipronged information campaign that overcame skepticism and enlisted the support of a socially and economically diverse citizenry as well as private companies. Combined with other measures such as improving data management and upgrading technology, the strategy averted disaster. By the time the drought eased in 2018, Capetonians had cut their water usage by nearly 60% from 2015 levels. With each resident using little more than 50 liters per day, Cape Town achieved one of the lowest per capita water consumption rates of any major city in the world. The success set a benchmark for cities around the world that confront the uncertainties of a shifting global climate.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2018. Case published February 2019.

Muiz Banire

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Country of Reform
Graeme Blair
Muiz Banire
Interviewee's Position
Commissioner for the Environment
Interviewee's Organization
Lagos State, Nigeria
Nationality of Interviewee
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Muiz Banire discusses the reforms he implemented as Commissioner for the Environment in Lagos State as well as other government posts. Among his major advances was the execution of systematic refuse disposal. Banire hopes to improve this system even further by recycling more of Lagos’s waste. He explains that a major element of the successful reforms was educating people on the rules and alternatives to problematic behaviors. Additionally, communicating the individual benefits of alternative practices helped spread change. Banire found that interpersonal communication was the most effective method of delivering his messages. In this interview, he explains how his department prioritized their various goals, picking achievable targets despite the large quantities of improvements they sought. Banire operated at the local government level, setting up offices within Lagos State’s local governments. In four of the twenty local governments, he established zero-tolerance offices to reduce environmental nuisances. He also describes international initiatives to address climate change, including West Africa’s first International Summit. The reforms incorporated the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government, and Banire talks about the legal process of setting up these reforms. He also describes his human resource management and how he worked with his staff. Banire stresses that he found a role for everyone. Overall, Banire says his work as Commissioner of the Environment increased the number of jobs in Lagos State.



 At the time of this interview, Dr. Muiz Banire was Commissioner for the Environment in Lagos State, Nigeria, a position he had held since 2007. Having been in government since the late 1990s, he had previously served as Commissioner for Special Duties in the governor’s office and Commissioner for Transportation of Lagos State. Prior to that, he had practiced law and taught law at the University of Lagos. He holds a doctorate degree in Property Law from the University of Lagos. He is the author of several publications, including numerous articles: The Nigerian Law of Trusts (2002) and co-author of The Blue Book 2004: Practical Approach to the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2004.

Full Audio File Size
58 MB
Full Audio Title
Muiz Banire - Full Interview