Cape Town, South Africa has been suffering a three-year drought. Despite government intervention, citizens have taken matters into their own hands, tapping springs and modifying their homes and behavior. Their innovations prove the necessity of civic involvement and DIY innovation to endure the kind of natural disasters that will increasingly plague civilization due to climate change.

United in a common struggle, the drought has also leveled the racially divided city’s physical and social barriers in profound ways. At HuffPost Highline, Johannesburg-based journalist Eve Fairbanks examines the way Cape Town residents of different classes are using the opportunity to help and learn from each other—with white privileged residents expanding their concept of “community” to include the black South Africans previously known as “them.”

The drought has dissolved what Fairbanks calls the “infrastructure of privilege,” luxuries like pools, gardens and long showers, as well as a sense of security.  Some people in…

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