Although the Southern Hemisphere is in winter, Chile is experiencing the worst drought recorded over the last 13 years.
Chile's Agriculture Minister Maria Undurraga on Tuesday declared "agricultural emergency" in 54 municipalities at the Ñuble y Biobio regions.
Taken in preparation for the summer, the decision allows these municipalities to access a US$11-million emergency fund, which is designed to alleviate production-related damages caused by water stress.
Although drought has been affecting Ñuble and Biobio for a long time, there are around 5 million people suffering the consequences of water scarcity. This figure represents almost 30 percent of the country's population.
Fires and droughts affecting Chile are both linked to global climate change. Previously, authorities also declared drought-related emergencies in Coquimbo, Valparaiso, O'Higgins, Maule, Los Lagos, and 20 Metropolitan municipalities.
Ayer fue un intenso día en terreno declarando emergencia agrícola por déficit hídrico en Biobío y Ñuble.— M. Emilia Undurraga (@meryundurraga) September 8, 2021
Es vital trabajar de la mano con las autoridades locales para entre todos enfrentar el desafío de adaptarnos a esta condición de sequía y apoyar a nuestro #MundoRural pic.twitter.com/g3ORBnnm0E
Although the Southern Hemisphere is in winter, Chile is experiencing the worst drought recorded over the last 13 years. With respect to the averages recorded in normal years, the rainfall deficit reached 80 percent and the snow deficit reached 85 percent, which has brought river flows to their minimum levels, outlet El Inversor Energetico recalled.
Besides affecting agriculture, this extreme weather event is damaging the prospects for mining, a water-intensive activity that provides 10 percent of the Chilean gross domestic product (GDP).
The most affected mines would be those located in the upper part of the Andes mountain range. Among them are Los Bronces, Caserones, and El Teniente, which is the largest underground copper deposit in the world.