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News > Latin America

Valparaiso Declared Catastrophe Zone Due To Extreme Drought

  • The emergency declaration came in the middle of driest winter in sixty years in Valparaiso.

    The emergency declaration came in the middle of driest winter in sixty years in Valparaiso. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 September 2019

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of emergency in the nation's coastal city as Valparaiso suffers through its driest winter in sixty years.

Chilean President Piñera declared Valparaiso a catastrophe zone on Monday after local authorities announced that the typically wet season precipitation in the municipality has decreased by 70.5 percent compared to previous year average rain falls.


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The president's measure will extend for 12 months starting Sept. 26. Mayor of Valparaiso, Jorge Sharp, will be responsible for coordinating and implementing the city's recovery programs proposed by the federal government for the provincial capital of nearly one million inhabitants.

Around 56 communities are under “water shortage” alerts and another 111 have been placed under “agricultural emergency” in Chile's central region where Valparaiso, the seat of the legislator, is located. May through September generally brings the heaviest rains to Valparaiso with July seeing the heaviest amounts of precipitation that, on average, reaches 110 mm.

In August, the government declared an agricultural emergency in the areas surrounding Santiago and Coquimboin in response to a decade-long drought in these areas of the Andean nation.

Last week, Piñera's government announced his government would spend 5,000 million dollars to increase drinking water capacity and to reduce losses in urban drinking water systems.

Nationwide, the droughts have resulted in state losses so far of US$10 million to supply drinking water alone via tank trucks. Around 380,000 people living in the Valparaiso area, particularly in rural areas are receiving water from tankers.

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