The Great Peruvian Drought

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryMany parts of the western United States are experiencing drought and drought-like conditions with water levels of lakes, rivers and dam reservoirs dropping at record rates to record lows. A growing number of these areas are so dry that people can no longer access water for even things like washing or drinking. Even emergency measures being taken to ration water is not helping the situation. America, however, is not the only country being affected by drought.

Peru is having the same problem in 100 districts of the country as the Peruvian government has declared a state emergency throughout the country. The drought is so bad that many farmers cannot grow potatoes; one of the most important staples in the Peruvian diet. Worse, the country’s alpacas are dying in record numbers. With lakes and rivers drying up due to a lack of rain, the alpacas (the wild version of llamas) are unable to survive in many cases. Many of their new-born do not survive due to lack of water. The southern part of Peru has been hit especially hard, and many indigenous Quechua and Aymara farmers (two of Peru’s indigenous peoples) have reported that many of their llamas and alpacas have died. For so many such farmers, this has proven to be a disaster.

According to many Peruvian government experts, this is the single worst drought to hit the country in 58 years. Many are blaming climate change for the extreme dry season. Whole lagoons have dried up and disappeared. Only the cracked mud earth is a reminder that there was anything at all. Whole village communities in the southern part of the country have taken out images of their saints to call upon them to bring badly needed rain. According to USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), Peru’s cycles of drought and flooding have been getting worse over the years, and USAID, in cooperation with the Peruvian government, has been trying to find ways to conserve water in case of drought as well as irrigate rivers and waterways in case of flooding. As terrible as what is happening now is, it all hopefully will serve as a wake-up call of how to deal with such disastrous situations in the near future to relieve the suffering that is being endured now.

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