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South America: Drought - 2015-2017

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According to official contingency planning documents for El Niño 2015-2016, Bolivia's Civil Defense reported that 100,000 households (approx. 500,000 people) may be affected by excess rainfall and/or drought in 109 municipalities of the country (OCHA, 13 Oct 2015). As of 21 December 2015, a state of emergency had been declared in 27 municipalities of the departments of Oruro, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca due to drought (ECHO, 23 Dec 2015). In February 2016, the drought was still affecting the southern regions of Altiplano and Chaco (Gov't of Bolivia, 24 Feb 2016). As of May 2016, 7 western regions were particularly affected, including Oruro and La Paz. More than 70,000 families are impacted by the drought (OCHA, 1 June 2016). As of July 31, 160,000 people were affected by drought and 104 municipalities have declared a state of emergency (PAHO, 4 Aug 2016). As of September 1, some 133,000 families had been affected by drought in 7 departments - Oruro, Cochabamba (the two most affected) and Beni have declared a state of emergency for drought. The sectors most affected were water, sanitation and hygiene and food security (OCHA, 23 Aug 2016). On September 22, WFP implemented an operation to save lives and protect livelihoods of 40,000 assisted people affected by the drought in the Department of Oruro (WFP, 30 Sep 2016). On November 21, Bolivia declared a drought state of emergency due to water shortages in large swaths of the country, claiming it to be the worst drought in 25 years (Gov't of Bolivia, 21 Nov 2016). By the end of 2016, the drought had affected 173 of the country's 339 municipalities in 8 provinces. The west of the country is still affected, including Potosí, Oruro, el Chaco and the south of La Paz (La Paz, 28 Dec 2016). Below‑average precipitations continued through January 2017 resulting in major areas being affected by severe dry weather. Compounding the effects of the dry weather in early February, a severe locust infestation affected 1,000 ha in 5 of the 15 municipalities of Santa Cruz. The Government declared a state of emergency in the region and has begun to fumigate and provide farmers with access to pesticides, making immediately available USD 700,000 for this effort. FAO is assisting in this process, as well as developing a short term plan to manage the pest infestation and prevent a further expansion of the pest (FAO GIEWS, 17 Feb 2017). A technical meeting was carried out jointly with the Governor of Oruro and staff from the Vice Ministry of Civil Defence to finalize the IR-EMOP 201021, carried out between September – December 2016, through which WFP has improved the food security of more than 40,000 people. (WFP, 31 Mar 2017)
In April 2017, a state of emergency was declared in Vallegrande as 1,366 families suffered the affects of drought and crop destruction as a result of the worst drought registered in the last 20 years in that region of the country (Government of Bolivia, 24 Apr 2017). By May of 2017, 24,000 families in 535 communities have been affected by drought. The Government assures that food security has not been affected despite lower agricultural yields in recent months (Government of Bolivia, 28 May 2017).
On 27 July, the loss of weight in bovine animals and the disappearance of water in the fields forced the Municipal Council of Huacaraje to declare state of emergency. (Government of Bolivia, 27 Jul 2017)

Brazil is undergoing its most severe drought in 35 years and heavily populated regions, particularly the country's southeast, depend on local reservoirs and aquifers which are not being replenished due to the drought (Thomson Reuters Foundation, 30 Oct 2015). In October, 13,440 forest fires were registered in the state of Amazonas and authorities declared a 90-day state of emergency for 12 cities (OCHA, 2 Nov 2015). Severe dry weather, associated to the El Niño phenomena, in major producing states such as Parana and parts of Sao Paulo and Mato Grosso have reportedly delayed maize planting operations and reduced the area planted (FAO, 30 Dec 2015). In October 2016, the National Integration Ministry acknowledged the emergency in 14 municipalities in the states of Amazonas, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Sergipe, São Paulo and Tocantins, so that cities can count on benefits offered by the Federal Government (Gov't of Brazil, 7 Oct 2016). In December 2016, President Temer announced $230 million in investments to build 133,000 rainwater harvesting cisterns, ponds, and water access projects in 15 Brazilian states reeling from drought, mostly in Northeast Brazil (Gov't of Brazil, 28 Dec 2016). In February 2017, concern for the Boqueirão reservoir in the city of Campina Grande in Northeast Brazil increased significantly as the reservoir reached only 4 percent capacity. Experts predict without further rainfall, the city's water system will collapse by mid-year possibly resulting in mass evacuations of the city (Reuters, 17 Feb 2017). As of March 2017, over 850 Brazil cities faced major water shortage issues. The number of cities across Brazil under state of emergency by the federal government on account of a long period of drought total 872, with the Northeast being the most severely affected region (Government of Brazil, 22 Mar 2017).

In Colombia, El Niño weather phenomenon is predicted to decrease rains by more than 60% during the rainy season of Oct-Nov-Dec. (Gov't, 5 Oct 2015) On 30 Dec, the Colombian President declared the red alert for low levels in the Magdalena and Cauca rivers in 23 provinces. (Reuters, 30 Dec 2015) Early January 2016, 124 municipalities were affected by drought in the country. (Gov't of Colombia, 6 Jan 2016) Early April, a public emergency due to drought was declared in Córdoba and Cesar departments. (PAHO, 8 Apr 2016) In June 2016, the Government declared the dry season had ended, over a particularly severe El Niño phenomenon. (Gov't of Colombia, 2 June 2016)
As of December 2016, undernutrition remains a serious issue in parts of Colombia. 93 children have died of undernutrition in the department of La Guajira in 2016, including three during the last 24 hours, and 13 between 10 and 17 December. The majority of these deaths have occurred among the Wayuú indigenous population. The deaths are related to drought, lack of access to food and drinking water, the absence of basic services and the closure of the border with Venezuela (ECHO, 20 Dec 2016). The European Commission’s Department for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations has been funding a comprehensive response programme, implemented by humanitarian partners to address the acute water and food needs of nearly 900 families in the Wayuu community (ECHO, 08 Mar 2017).

In Paraguay, the authorities delivered water to about 1,100 indigenous families affected by drought in remote areas of the provinces of Presidente Hayes y Boquerón early February (Gov't of Paraguay, 4 Feb 2016). Between June and August, the government delivered more than 10 million liters of water to affected people in the western regions of the country, including El Chaco (Gov't of Paraguay, 26 Sep 2016). In January 2017, the government distributed safe drinking water to over 2,500 families affected by drought in El Chaco (Gov't of Paraguay, 27 Jan 2017). In March 2017, the government distributed 1,680 liters of safe drinking water to over 2,500 indigenous families affected by drought in the western regions of the country (Gov't of Paraguay, 27 Mar 2017). In March 2017, WFP started the distribution of the caloric supplement in the Paraguayan Chaco jointly with the National Institute for Food and Nutrition (INAN). (WFP, 31 Mar 2017). In August of 2017, 2,051 indigenous families from the Chaco territory received potable water and water purification tablets to combat the affects of drought in the region. (Gov't of Paraguay, 08 Aug 2017)

In Venezuela, power cuts were announced in April 2016 with the aim to alleviate the pressure on the Guri hydroelectric dam, the largest power plant in the country, where the long-running drought has driven water levels to historic lows. (Deutsche Welle, 21 Apr 2016) The effects of the drought have been compounded by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which is pushing back the start of the rainy season.

In Peru, the agricultural sector has been impacted by drought, and several provinces, including Apurimac (PAHO, 31 May 2016) and Junin have been declared in emergencies. (El Comercio, 3 Feb 2016) The government has released a risk prevention and mitigation plan before drought for 2016. (Gov't of Peru, 2 Feb 2016) By the end of March 2016, the government had invested more than 13 million soles in emergency mitigation actions against the drought. (WFP, 30 May 2016) On 30 Sep, a state of emergency was declared by Executive powers due to imminent danger from a lack of water in several districts of Arequipa. (PAHO, 30 Sep 2016) On 11 December, a state of emergency was declared for seven provinces in the Lima region due to water shortages. (RPP, 11 Dec 2016)

In Ecuador, the complexity of the situation is also compounded by the drought and flooding conditions brought about by the El Niño phenomenon, which is also affecting the earthquake affected Manabí and Esmeraldas provinces. (WFP, 20 Apr 2016)
Ecuador has lost more than USD 7,100 million due to El Niño. It is foreseen that by spring 2016, the production will drop as follows: husked rise 16%, flint maize 22%, sugar 40% and banana 30%. This will decrease the food security of vulnerable households as well as the local and national economy. (WFP, 30 May 2016) In March 2017, WFP assisted 25,400 people, suffering the consequences of food insecurity and heavy rains. (WFP, 31 Mar 2017)