The worst drought in the last 100 years has hit Brazil as it struggles to defeat Covid
A severe drought for nearly a century has left millions of Brazilians facing water shortages and the threat of power outages, making the country more likely to help recover from the coronavirus epidemic.
São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul agricultural areas have been hit hard by the November-March rainy season with the lowest rainfall in 20 years.
Water in the Cantareira drops, which carry about 7.5m to the city of São Paulo, has dropped to one-tenth of its capacity this year. Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy has declared the worst drought in the country in 91 years.
“Recently, we have had a shortage of water every day, but we often stayed up late. But on Thursday we were without water all day, “said Nilza Maria Silva Duarte from eastern São Paulo.
José Francisco Goncalves, professor of ecology at the University of Brasília, said the drought was seriously undermining important agricultural activities, which accounted for about 30% of domestic production.
“Lack of water in rivers and storage areas means that farmers will not be able to irrigate their fields, which could lead to agriculture,” he said.
He predicted that the drought “would increase global inflation, lower Brazil’s GDP. It has a direct impact.”
Jose Odilon, a farmer in Ribeirão Preto, a thriving agricultural community in the state of São Paulo, said his sugarcane crop had been severely affected.
Its large plantations are equipped with heavy agricultural equipment – many of which are machine-made – to harvest sugarcane from its leaves, harvest stalks and then dump them into Mercedes trucks to run local mills.
“We suffer greatly from the lack of moisture in the soil,” he explained. “This is hindering development.”
Odilon says the disruption of La Nina’s climate, which meant heavy rainfall on the Amazon coast and in the south-south of the country.
Marcelo Laterman, a climate advocate from Greenpeace Brazil, said the drought was “directly linked” to deforestation in the Amazon, which last year reached its peak in more than a decade. Rainwater harvesting is a major factor in the distribution of rainfall in South America.
Since power generation uses about 65% of Brazil’s renewable energy sources, the drought has also reduced electricity generation. This has forced a dramatic change in oil prices, pushing up electricity prices for businesses and consumers by up to 40% this year, according to estimates.
“Our current model based on the power of the electric field of the electric field of the electric equator is not stable,” Laterman said. “Increased drought is forcing energy sources and the solution we have is the installation of renewable energy sources – which, in addition to being expensive, increase greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbate the problem.”
The Brazilian government has issued a warning about power outages, threatening to reduce power outages. Local journalists have reported that the government is preparing a law to establish a system to run the electricity system in crisis. The Ministry of Mines and Energy said it was discussing energy distribution with “consumers and large industries during the growing power generation.”
Silva Duarte said: “Our electricity bills are very expensive, and I don’t know how we will manage them because our salaries have not gone up. They say prices will increase. Where will they stand?”
Drought comes as Brazil struggles with economic and social crises. About half a million Brazilians have died Covid-19 disease, the second worst country in the world after the US, and the death toll remains at over 2,000 a day.
The country’s vaccine is also about to start. More than a quarter of Brazil’s 212m people have now received their first shot.
Consumer prices have risen sharply by more than 8% year-on-year until May, rising prices combined with rising unemployment hit the country’s poorest citizens.
About half of Brazil’s population now has enough food on a regular basis, with 19m, or 9% of its citizens, facing starvation, according to the Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutritional Emperor and Security.