24 Jan 2015

Brazil suffers ‘worst ever’ droughts

Some of Brazil’s most populous states are tackling their worst droughts since records began – halfway through what should be the rainy season.

Droughts have afflicted the eastern states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janerio and Sao Paulo – and are also affecting energy production as hydro-electric dams are starved of enough water to run them.

The south east region would usually be midway through its rainy season, but the ongoing water shortages are likely to have a knock-on effect on agriculture and industry – further knocking Brazil’s unsteady economy.

We have never seen such a delicate and worrying situation Brazil’s environment minister

Izabella Teixeira, Brazil’s environment minister, said the three states are suffering their worst droughts since 1930.

“Since records for Brazil’s south-eastern region began 84 years ago we have never seen such a delicate and worrying situation,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Sao Paulo have been hit by frequent cuts in water supply since the drought began.

The state saw droughts last year as well, with bad planning and decision-making being blamed for this year’s problems.

Water in Rio de Janeiro’s state water reservoir has dropped to zero for the first time.

Andre Correa, the state’s secretary of environment, said this was the “worst year” of drought for the state.

But she said the state government would not bring in water rationing before July, even if rains fail to appear.

Sao Paulo’s metropolitan area is experiencing its worst drought in nearly a century.