Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is facing a severe drought that could affect around 500,000 people by the end of the year, authorities said on Tuesday.
Many are already struggling to access basic supplies such as food and water because the main means of transport in the region is waterways and river levels are historically low. The drought is also affecting fishing, a means of livelihood for many riverside communities.
The Amazon state declared an environmental emergency two weeks ago in response to prolonged drought and launched a $20 million response plan. Authorities will also distribute food and water supplies as well as personal hygiene kits, the state’s civil defense agency said in a statement.
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Gov. Wilson Lima was in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, on Tuesday to meet with representatives of the federal government. Lima spoke with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss the drought.f
The different levels of government will “coordinate measures to support people living in the affected municipalities,” Lima said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.
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Fifteen municipalities were under a state of emergency on Tuesday, while another 40 were on alert, the civil defense authority said.
According to the Port of Manaus, which monitors water levels, the river was at 55 feet Tuesday, about 20 feet below the same day last year. The lowest water level was recorded on October 24, 2010, when the river dropped to about 45 feet.
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The drought is expected to last longer and be more severe due to the El Niño climate phenomenon, which prevents rain clouds from forming, the civil defense authority said.
Climate change is exacerbating droughts by making them more frequent, longer and more intense. Warmer temperatures enhance evaporation, which reduces surface water and dries out soils and vegetation.