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Brazil Drought Crisis Leads to Rationing and Tensions

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Cracked ground in an area which used to be underwater at the Jaguari dam. The dam is part of the Sao Paulo's Cantareira system of dams. Photograph: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

Brazil Drought Crisis Leads to Rationing and Tensions

From his front door to the banks of the Cantareira reservoir, José Christiano da Silva used to stroll only a hundred metres when he first moved to the area in 2009. Today, amid the worst drought in São Paulo's history, he must now trek a kilometre across the dried-up bed before he reaches what's left of the most important water supply for South America's biggest city.

"It's frightening to look at," says the retiree, standing on cracked mud. "In the past, we'd already be under water here." After the driest six months since records began 84 years ago, the volume of the Cantareira system has fallen to 10.7% of its capacity, raising alarms for the nearby urban population of 20 million people and the most important…