TODAY COLOMBIA – Two hundred and ten municipalities in Colombia are now rationing water as a result of the severe drought affecting the country, Minister of Housing Luis Felipe Henao said Monday.
The drought in Colombia, which is being called the worst in decades, is attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon, which occurs every few years and affects weather patterns. In Colombia’s case El Niño is causing unusually hot and dry weather conditions.
“The current El Niño phenomenon is the most serious one that the country has experienced in the last 50 years,” said Henao, who added that 21 out of 32 departments would likely be affected.
Henao said the most affected departments would be La Guajira, which has seen a 78 percent drop in water collection, Magdalena with a 54 percent drop, and Atlantico with a 48 percent fall.
Colombia’s meteorological institute, known as the Ideam, predicts the rest of the year will have even higher temperatures and consequently even drier conditions, meaning the drought is set to worsen.
According to El Tiempo newspaper, over 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres) of forest have been lost due to wildfires attributed to the dry conditions.
The government has responded to the water crisis by implementing a total of 656 emergency plans. In addition to water rationing, the plans call on drinking water to be delivered by truck to some of the affected areas. The government is also monitoring the water levels of rivers and has disconnected illegal diversions.
The Colombian Congress is considering creating a special commission to specifically deal with the drought and the effects of El Niño.
This article first appeared at Todaycolombia.com