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Drought bites in South America

From capybaras to coffee, a lack of water is having a severe impact across the continent.

Last updated: 25 Mar 2014 10:31
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Arabica bean production is concentrated in western Brazil where drought has hit production [EPA]

Drought is having a considerable impact on people, flora and fauna across South America.

Although the issue has been on-going for many months, recent scenes of wildfires raging in tropical rainforests of northern Colombia have illustrated the extent of the problem.

As rivers and lakes shrivel, herds of capybaras, the world’s largest rodent, have been seen gathering in huge numbers, awaiting the return of the rains.

In neighbouring Brazil, the wildlife appears to be less badly affected but the human population has suffered. More than 140 cities across the country have seen some sort of water rationing in recent months.

The southeastern city of Sao Paulo has experienced its worst drought in 50 years. Demand for water soared during January which was the hottest on record in the city.

Heavy rain during March has gone some way towards alleviating the situation but there are concerns of water shortages having an impact on the World Cup, with the city hosting its first game on 12 June.

Sao Paulo lies in the heart of the country’s robusta coffee bean production. Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer, and the crop has been affected, causing future prices to soar by up to 50%.

Arabica bean production is concentrated in western Brazil, towards the border with Peru. Here too, drought has hit production.

Other crops have also been impacted by the lack of water. Cotton, sugar and orange crops have been hit and cattle farmers have also suffered the loss of many cattle and goats.

Long range forecasts indicate that the shortage of rainfall will continue until the end of May, particularly in the east of the country. The same region is also expected to experience above-average temperatures.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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