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Brazil's drought reaches historic levels

The worst drought in 50 years takes toll on livestock and crops

Last Modified: 16 Apr 2013 12:01
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This farmer cuts cactus to burn before feeding it to her goats in the absence of green pasture [Reuters]

The worst drought in 50 years is affecting several states in northeast Brazil.

Some of these areas have not seen rain in over a year, while for others, it has been just a few drops since November.

The ongoing drought has been affecting much of northeastern Brazil for several years. It is estimated that upwards of 10 million people have been affected, making it the worst drought since 1963.

The semiarid region of the state of Bahia is the worst hit. More than a million head of cattle have perished, equivalent to half of the region’s cattle herd.

But it’s not only livestock, crops are also suffering from the drought. In northern Minas Gerias approximately 90% of the corn crops have been lost. Cassave flour which is the staple of the Brazilian diet has been badly affected, that prices for this necessity have risen by up to 700%.

While the federal government cannot change the rain situation, it is trying to take a more proactive approach in providing emergency measures for the population. The government is allocating $4.44 billion in federal funds to combat the effects of the drought.

Programmes such as Carro-Pipa have been working tirelessly to distribute water and build or fix wells in municipalities affected most by the drought.

With no guarantee that the drought situation will improve in the years to come, other research initiatives are being developed. The organization Adapta Sertao has been testing alternative ways to irrigate and provide nutrition to livestock. Adapta Sertao does this by teaching farmers to think differently about how they use their water such as reusing sink and bath water for irrigation.

In these days of more severe droughts for many places around the world, it may be this adaptive learning philosophy that carries farmers through the long dry spells.

 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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