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Roots of desert succulent a succour for rodents and strange subterranean plants

One year ago, South Africa was at the bitter tail end of a three-year drought. A drought that led to a demand for residents of Cape Town to reduce water usage from 200 litres per person per day to only 50. The respected scientific journal Nature described that target as the amount of water in a water tub filled to 10 cm. Not much.
The drought exposed the social divide in the city where poorer people had always existed on that kind of water ration, or less. For the better off, this now meant letting gardens die and using shower water to flush toilets. All this to avoid a 'day zero', when Cape Town would run out of water.

In May, the rains came. Saving the city on this occasion. Decisions made in preceding decades were, according to Nature, 'short-sighted'. The problem was caused it seems mostly by poor managed of limited water resources, compounded perhaps by climate change. The latter will only add to the problem in coming years.

When I visited in August the threat wa…

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