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Drought in Chile: Agricultural Emergency Declared for 50 Municipalities and Two Entire Regions

SANTIAGO – Water scarcity is now a serious problem in Chile. The Ministry of Agriculture has declared an agricultural emergency in 17 municipalities in the Metropolitan Region and in 33 in the O’Higgins Region. Drought conditions now affect six regions in Chile.

The ongoing drought has become a huge problem for Chile, especially in the central part of the country.

That is why the Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, declared an agricultural emergency for water scarcity in 17 of the Metropolitan Region’s 52 municipalities: San Pedro, Alhué, Colina, Til-Til, Curacaví, María Pinto, Melipilla, Lampa, Buin, Paine, Pirque, San José de Maipo, Peñaflor, Isla de Maipo, Padre Hurtado, El Monte, and Talagante.

The Metropolitan Region’s Intendant, Karla Rubilar, pushed for the declaration, after pointing out that “the lack of water is reducing the productive work of the rural towns in question,” as reported by La Nación.

Following the declaration, it was announced that CLP$733 million (a little over US$1 million) would be available through social assistance to support the farmers in the areas affected by the so-called “mega-drought.”

Minister Walker explained that “these resources, fundamentally, will be used for fodder, supplies, remedies for animals and also drinking water for human consumption and [for] animals,” as reported by Cooperativa.

Not Only the Metropolitan Region

The agricultural emergency also extends to 33 municipalities in the neighboring O’Higgins Region. According to Minister Walker, the situation in the O’Higgins Region “is a very, very critical one, especially in the coastal dry land.”

Moreover, the 50 municipalities in the Metropolitan and O’Higgins Regions are only the latest areas to be added to the agricultural emergency zone: The Valparaíso and Coquimbo Regions were declared agricultural emergencies in their entirety several weeks ago.

“We Are Having a Bad Time”

Minister Walker’s summation is ominous. “We are having a bad time,” he said, and, as reported by Cooperativa, he emphasized that this has been one of the worst droughts in the last 60 years, with “a 70% rainfall deficit.”

In the meantime, the six central regions currently affected by drought, from the Atacama, at the northern end, to the Maule at the southern end, have no relief in sight.

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