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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Residents feel El Niño´s impacts
11/18/2009
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Major droughts hit several countries in the region.

This year´s El Niño event is already impacting several Latin American countries with ravaging droughts, causing forest fires and damages to crops and livestock.

While this season´s El Niño, a climatic phenomenon characterized by higher ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, is expected to be moderate, water shortages and other challenges have already emerged.

In Argentina, lower-than-normal rainfall in eight central provinces have killed more than a million heads of cattle and damaged 10 million hectares of arable land around the country. The province of Cordoba was the most affected, with 30,000 hectares lost from brush fires.

Ecuador is suffering its worst drought in 40 years. On Nov. 6, the government declared a 60-day state of emergency for the electricity sector because of the lack of rain, in addition to electricity rationing in some of the country´s major cities.

Venezuela has a 25 percent water shortage, forcing authorities to restrict service until next May. Some 11,000 heads of cattled died and 20,000 hectares of crops were destroyed in the drought the Chuquisaca, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Tarija departments. Víctor Rico, manager of the public Water and Sanitation Company, warned Nov. 9 that La Paz only has water reserves for 80 days.

The severe drought in Guatemala — the worst in 30 years — has killed 550 people between January and August, including 54 children, according to the Health Ministry. The crisis has affected 400,000 families, many of whom are suffering from malnutrition.
—Latinamerica Press.


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