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Brazil, from the worst drought in almost a century to thousands of evacuees due to rains

Brazil In a few months, it has gone from dealing with the worst drought in the last 91 years to suffering severe rainstorms that have caused nearly a hundred deaths and at least 150,000 evacuees in the northeast and southeast regions of the country.

The reservoirs at low levels due to the lack of rainfall between June and September 2021 have given way to overflowing rivers, deadly landslides and entire municipalities flooded between the end of last year and the beginning of this 2022.

Bahia, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, where together some 83 million people live, almost 40% of the total population, have been the country’s states most affected by the showers that have been punishing part of the Brazilian territory since October.

The “lack of urban infrastructure” and “climate prevention and adaptation policies” have done the rest, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, geographer Rodrigo Jesus Santos, spokesman for Greenpeace’s Climate and Justice campaign, told Efe.

In Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais (southeast) and Bahia (northeast) at least 86 deaths have been recorded in recent months, while some 150,000 people have had to leave their homes due to the rains, according to official data.

Only in the town of Franco da Rocha, in the metropolitan area of ​​Sao Paulo, there were 18 deaths due to a landslide that buried some houses built on steep terrain.

“There is an increase in extreme events related to intense rains with direct consequences on the most vulnerable population that lives on the outskirts of large cities or in rural communities,” Santos pointed out.

more intense storms

Storms are common during the Brazilian austral summer, but this year they have intensified under the influence of La Niña and the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (ZCAS), according to the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet).

The latter is one of the main atmospheric phenomena responsible for the replenishment of water in part of Brazil during the rainy season and consists of a vast strip of clouds that persists for several days causing heavy rainfall in an area.

This caused, for example, that the city of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country, recorded the wettest January since 2017.

What is striking is that these above-average rains come shortly after Brazil went through one of the worst droughts in recent decades, an increasingly frequent phenomenon linked, among other factors, to deforestation in the Amazon, which is has shot up since President Jair Bolsonaro came to power.

During the past austral summer, already dry, the southeast and center-west regions of Brazil, responsible for the generation of about 70% of the country’s electricity, saw the level of their reservoirs reduced to the lowest since 2001 .

Great social and economic impact

The drought seriously affected agricultural areas, with gigantic economic consequences and forced the Government to create a new consumption rate that triggered the electricity bill, in order to encourage savings and avoid energy rationing.

The heavy rains have also been causing immense economic damage that the National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM) estimates at some 55.6 billion reais (US$10.5 billion) from 2017 to today.

Likewise, the entity calculates that, in the last five years, the downpours destroyed almost 16,000 homes and damaged more than half a million.

Extreme events “will be increasingly intense, according to the scenarios designed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” and their impacts are being “enhanced” by human action, Santos recalled.

However, only 7 of the 27 Brazilian states say they have a climate prevention and adaptation plan, according to Greenpeace, which next week will publicly ask the federal and regional administrations for urgent and effective action in this direction.

“There is a negligence of public managers in the face of the climate crisis (…) We are experiencing a climate emergency; It is not something of the future, it is present because lives are being lost and ecosystems are breaking down,” Santos said.

Source: Gestion