Photo: Drought in Colombia
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced financial aid for the agricultural sector that could be hurt if the weather phenomenon known as El Niño aggravates the severe drought already affecting much of the northern part of the country.
Santos outlined the plan Thursday during a Cabinet meeting held near Barranquilla, capital of Atlantico province, one of the areas suffering most from the drought.
The president said that if the onset of El Niño is confirmed, the farming sector is sure to suffer the effects.
Colombia’s national ombudsman, Jorge Armando Otalora, asked the president to intervene in 22 provinces to ease the effects of the drought.
“What we risk are the lives of children, the lives of the Indians and the life of the community, and for that reason we have suggested that the government take action in 117 municipalities, in 22 provinces facing problems with the basic water supply,” Otalora said.
In recent weeks the drought has caused 642 wildfires, the death of some 40,000 head of cattle and has particularly blighted the rice-growing sector, which acknowledges having lost up to 47 percent of the harvest in some regions.