Village Stranded on Lake Bed in Brazilian Amazon Due to Severe Drought
A village in the Brazilian Amazon has been left stranded on a lake bed due to a severe drought, leaving communities struggling for food, water, and fuel. The water level of Lake Puraquequara, located east of Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas, has plummeted, leaving boats and floating buildings abandoned in the mud.
This alarming situation is just the latest example of the devastating effects of heat and drought in the region. Earlier this month, over a hundred river dolphins died as a result of rising water temperatures. Authorities warn that the situation is expected to worsen.
Lake Puraquequara is part of the Negro River river system, which is currently at its lowest level since the end of September, according to the state civil defense authority. “The lowering of the water level is having a profound impact,” stated a spokesperson from the authority. Some residents have resorted to digging wells in the cracked lake bed to obtain water.
Isolated and unable to receive supplies, local residents are feeling the effects of the drought. “Our shops have no customers. We are isolated, boats cannot enter or leave the lake,” said Isaac Rodrigues, a resident. He added, “We’re going to be here until God sends us water.”
The severe drought is widespread throughout the state, with 42 municipalities out of the 62 in an emergency situation, affecting more than 300,000 people. Unfortunately, the situation is anticipated to worsen. The civil defense authority spokesperson stated that around 500,000 people and 50 more municipalities are likely to be affected in the coming weeks due to reduced rainfall levels.
In response to the crisis, Governor Wilson Lima declared a state of emergency at the end of September and announced assistance measures, including the distribution of food to those most affected.
The drought isn’t only impacting humans; it is also devastating the fauna of the state’s rivers. Scientists suspect that the unusual deaths of over 100 dolphins in Lake Tefé, west of Manaus, are related to extremely high water temperatures.
The drought in the Amazon region is worsened by El Niño, a natural weather pattern originating in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which affects weather globally. The long-term trend of global warming is exacerbating the situation, leading to more frequent and severe extreme weather events like drought and heat.
South America, including Brazil, has experienced intense and deadly heat as it transitioned from winter to spring. According to a study published by the World Weather Attribution initiative, the heat in August and September, which saw temperatures above 40°C in Brazil, was 100 times more likely due to the human-caused climate crisis.
The impact of this severe drought on the village and surrounding areas is devastating, with communities struggling for basic necessities. Authorities and organizations are working to provide assistance, but the ongoing effects of climate change pose a longer-term challenge for the region.