Sunday, June 20

Climate change: NASA images of a dry Mexico raise concerns about drought


Mexico is dangerously close to the highest levels of drought recorded in the last 20 years. 87.56% of the territory suffers from drought in different intensities, and 54% is dying due to the lack of rain. NASA has published this Friday some satellite images of the territory that turns brown with the passage of time due to the lack of rainfall and the transformation of the soil. “Large dams throughout Mexico are at exceptionally low levels, which depletes water resources for drinking, cultivating and irrigating,” said the agency.

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An image shows the Villa Victoria dam, which is part of the Cutzamala system that supplies much of Mexico City and the State of Mexico. A photograph shows considerably the level that has decreased during the last year. Currently, the dam is at 29% of its total capacity, when on the same day last year it was at 58%. The head of government of Mexico City has indicated that the capital is in a moment of “near emergency” due to the worst drought in the last 30 years, which has accentuated the number of forest fires and the forest territory lost due to from the flames.

In addition, due to the phenomenon of La Niña and El Niño, there have been more aggressive winds than in other years, which helps to fuel the fires and dry up the territory. Forest masses are getting smaller and smaller, as revealed by satellite images of Mexico’s green areas. The transformation of forest land or wetlands into cultivated or urban areas aggravates the consequences of the drought, which is currently scorching the north and center of the country.

A map prepared by NASA shows the levels of drought that Mexico is experiencing in May 2021.
A map prepared by NASA shows the levels of drought that Mexico is experiencing in May 2021.NASA

In the north, where the level of drought is highest, some ranchers in Coahuila have reported the death of their cattle. Farmers, unable to irrigate their crops, lose production and part of their livelihood. In Veracruz, a state where drought is unusual, mangoes are no longer a common fruit in the markets. In Nuevo León there are 58 municipalities seriously affected and the authorities have had to cut off water in some neighborhoods. José Rosario Marroquín, academic at the University Center for Dignity and Justice of the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, narrates that in his entity the lack of water directly affects the most vulnerable populations. “I have had to see people who have to use jugs of water at a very high cost for daily activities. Or use family relationships, move to bathe or have access to water, “he says.

The specialist in Human Rights related to water assures that the construction of more dams will not solve the problem in the long term. “There is a false paradigm that the amount of rain is guaranteed, but it is not true. Building dams does not attract rains. We depend mainly on creating more infrastructures and pipelines instead of re-educating, reducing demand, guaranteeing the human right to water, and punishing excessive consumption ”, he explains

His colleague, Óscar Castro, an academic from ITESO’s Department of Habitat and Urban Development, indicates that despite the fact that in September last year the looming water shortage was obvious, the necessary information was not given to the population and now in some areas of Guadalajara the water comes out “that looks like tamarind.” “The most disadvantaged areas have the least constant or poorer quality sources of supply. People with fewer resources are those who have to pay the highest rates for pipes, affecting neighborhoods with less income ”, he says.

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