A state emergency has been declared in 25 towns in Brazil in order to deal with one of the Amazon regions’s worst droughts in decades. (photo, from aljazeera.net)
Key waterways and rivers are left completely parched, the Amazonas state government said on Saturday.
The severe months-long drought has affected 40,000 people so far, in communities who depend on the South American rainforest for sustenance.
The government has airlifted six tonnes of food and 200 tonnes of donations to the stricken villages.
Aid delivery has been slow due to the low water levels in rivers, which prevent large vessels from navigating them, officials said.
“The boats cannot navigate, and then the transportation can only be done by canoe. In some places, people were running out of food,” Anisio Saturnino, a representative of one of the municipalities under emergency rule, said.
But the lack of food is not the only issue. Many people are also suffering from intestinal problems caused by poor water quality.
The drought affecting the Amazon is an extreme weather event resulting from El Nino, which occurred in late 2009 with its fallout being felt this year, said Ane Alencar, a researcher with the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM).
She added that the drought in the state of Amazonas has been more frequent and more intense than before.
The severity of the drought was unexpected, said environmentalists. However they added that dry weather like this will become more common due to climate change.
“There is already a climate change going on at some level. Greenpeace is tracking the impacts this can have on the Amazon, the impacts that the global warming – some two degrees – may bring to the Amazon, using as examples the years when those episodes are more severe. This year was out of the line,” Rafael Cruz, a Greenpeace worker, said.
Trade along the Amazon River may also be affected by the river’s shallow levels, because if the drought worsen, transporters worry ships will run aground.
The dry spell has also damaged the crops.
According to scientists the dry season will likely continue for another month, giving way to the rainy season at the end of November.
An intense hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean is partly responsible for the dry weather. The storms suck moisture from the Amazon region, which make for more powerful sea storms.