Sunday 20 June 2021

Drought Emergency in Pacific Coast Declared

Photo: Gabriela Solís
Photo: Gabriela Solís

COSTA RICA NEWS — The government declared a national emergency because of the drought in 19 cantons (counties) of the country. Rainfall during the rainy season has been far less than usual due to the Pacific Ocean phenomenon known as El Nino.

The emergency touches 11 cantons in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, five in Puntarenas province and three in Alajuela. The decree signed Tuesday by President Luis Guillermo Solis demonstrates how hard the drought has hit the Pacific slope and even the Central Valley.

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El Niño creates a warming of equatorial Pacific waters,creating abnormally dry conditions along the country’s Pacifc coast and a corresponding increase of rainfall on the Atlantic and Caribbean side. Ivan Brenes, chief of the National Emergency Commission (CNE) explained that his agency will search for special funds.

The decree will extend into the first quarter of next year, the end of the dry season that usually starts in mid-November. A state of Yellow Alert has been placed in force and institutions have already met to probe into measures to aid persons, especially farmers and cattlemen, most affected.

Costa Rica of course is not the only one affected — already, Nicaraguan cattle have been sold off because of pastures in the southwestern portion of that country have not rebounded with the rains after having dried up due to the dry season.

Despite a slight rebound in rainfall during September and October in Guanacaste province, the weather bureau expects a grave scarcity of water during the first quarter of next year. This is when farms and livestock ranches are at their most vulnerable, the depth of the dry season.

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The Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) has estimated that already losses of ¢14 billion colones have been felt in the northwestern and northern sector of Costa Rica. The biggest losses have been in corn, rice, sugar cane, watermelon, oranges, and honey–9 billion colones–with a five billion loss in livestock.

Juan Carlos Fallas, weather bureau chief, estimated that in July only two liters of rain fell per square meter in July when the expectation is for 155 liters. The emergency committee and weather experts warned that in December, the country will have a drastic increase in forest and grass fires.

Article by, edited by the Q!

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