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Montevideo, July 17th 2024 - 12:27 UTC



Uruguay better equipped in case of new drought

Monday, June 17th 2024 - 09:46 UTC
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Uruguay is better prepared this time around, Bouvier noted Uruguay is better prepared this time around, Bouvier noted

Uruguayan authorities are adopting contingency measures in case a new drought comes about in September as the La Niña phenomenon has been forecast to be bringing along a significant decrease in rainfall, it was reported in Montevideo.

 The Uruguayan capital has already gone through a drought recently when the water levels in the adjacent rivers fell below minimums, resulting in faucet water containing salinity and chloride levels above those cleared by the Health Ministry. However, heavy rainfall and floods this year have resulted in the displacement of thousands from their homes in rural areas.

With La Niña due in September, Environment Minister Robert Bouvier said that on this occasion the country is “better prepared” than in 2023. He also explained that work was already under way on a protocol for droughts. “It is going to be ready in a couple of months, and at the same time the other works are already in operation, such as the San José water transfer, which is operational,” he said.

In addition, a new water treatment plant in the department of San José to collect water from the River Plate is already under construction at a cost of US$ 200 million.

“We are in the environmental evaluation stage, we do not perceive a delay, we are making a responsible study,” Bouvier also noted as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is celebrated on June 17. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the number and duration of drought periods have increased by 29% since 2000. The situation could affect more than 75% of the world's population by 2050 if the trend does not change. A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report on climate in Latin America and the Caribbean found that in 2023 almost all of Mexico, central Chile, the Altiplano, the western and eastern Amazon, the central and southern Andes, as well as much of Central America, central Venezuela, and the Guianas were affected by severe droughts. Other countries such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti suffered more moderate water shortages, but, in general, most countries have been affected by drought.

Regarding a report from the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean released last week, which stated that Uruguay had indeed cut down its greenhouse gas emissions due to better practices in the agricultural sector, Bouvier insisted that his country's contribution to the global climate change crisis was “minimal.” Uruguay produces 0.04 percent of global polluting emissions, the report noted.

Bouvier also called for global and regional agreements on the matter, particularly to access financing for mitigation projects, and insisted on the need for governments to implement “adaptation measures.” He also underlined that Uruguay was already going through the second stage of its energy transition program.

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