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Drought causes a ‘state of emergency’ in Latin America

Drought causes a ‘state of emergency’ in Latin America

Posted June. 22, 2023 08:00,   

Updated June. 22, 2023 08:00


Latin America is experiencing the worst drought of the 21st century. The Super El Niño that has returned after a seven-year hiatus is causing abnormally high temperatures around the world. With no sign of rain in the foreseeable future, the drought is likely to get prolonged.

On Monday, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou declared a national emergency for water shortages. The worst drought in 74 years, which began last September, has left the Paso Severino reservoir, the water source for half of the country's 3.4 million people, dried up in the capital, Montevideo. Since the beginning of last month, water from the Santa Lucia River estuary, which is highly saline, has been supplied to the water supply. This has caused the price of a bottle of water to jump two to five times, sparking anti-government protests in Montevideo and elsewhere over the water shortage. The Uruguayan government has said it will consider exempting bottled water from VAT.

Panama, which is experiencing a once-a-century drought, announced on Monday that it will reduce the maximum draft (the depth of the hull that is submerged in water) for cargo ships traveling through the lowered Panama Canal from 14.47 meters to 13.11 meters by July 19. Argentina, a global breadbasket, has been hit by drought since January that is likely to cause its annual grain exports to plunge from 33.9 billion U.S. dollars last year to 18.4 billion dollars, which would be the lowest since 2010.