Spain’s cabinet approved measures worth more than €2bn on 11 May to tackle serious drought in the country. The drought has had a major impact on the agricultural sector and is driven by the climate crisis.
‘The climate emergency exists’
Spain’s water reserves are on average below 50% of capacity. In the two worst-hit areas, Andalusia and Catalonia, the reserves have fallen to roughly 25%. Desperation by farmers in Andalusia has led to them drilling illegal wells, with the Spanish Civil Guard recently arresting 26 fruit farmers for doing this.
The government has earmarked €1.4bn euros of funding to build new infrastructure, such as desalination plants. It said this is intended to boost the amount of available water. Another €784m will help farmers and ranchers cope with the lack of rain, which has decimated crops and driven up the cost of livestock feed.
Spain’s minister for ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, said:
Spain is used to facing periods of drought, but due to climate change they have become much more frequent and intense and we must prepare ourselves.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez said similar at the end of March. Early wildfires consumed thousands of hectares of forest in the country, leading Sanchez to proclaim that “the climate emergency exists”. He has also already urged Brussels to activate the bloc’s agriculture crisis reserve to help farmers cope with the exceptional drought.
Spain’s drought has international impacts
Spain has recorded its driest start of the year since such records began in 1961. The country has received less than half the normal amount of rain during the first four months of 2023, according to national weather agency AEMET.
There appears to be no relief in sight. No rainfall is expected in the coming weeks that could “alleviate” the drought, AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo said.
Spain is the world’s biggest exporter of olive oil and the EU‘s biggest producer of fruit and vegetables. The agriculture ministry’s figures show olive oil production has plummeted 55% in the 2022-2023 season to 660,000 tonnes, compared to 1.48 million tonnes in 2021-2022. This is down to drought and extreme heat. As such, the country’s drought has global implications.
The situation is so bad that some farmers have opted not to plant crops. COAG, the farming union, warned that 80% of farmland was “suffocating” from lack of rainfall. An unusually early heatwave at the end of April made the drought worse.
Granada, in the south of Spain, recorded a temperature of 38.8C on 27 April. That is the hottest temperature mainland Spain has ever recorded during April. Last year, Spain experienced its hottest year since records began.
UN figures have suggested nearly 75% of the country’s land is vulnerable to desertification due to the climate crisis.
Featured image via DW News/YouTube
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.