Drought, large retention reservoirs and the situation in the Horn of Africa

The construction of large retention reservoirs to irrigate agricultural fields threatens communities worldwide and violates the human right to water access. These vast reservoirs draw water from underground resources, which often leads to the degradation of water resources in a given area. Reservoirs are used by a few large farms, usually associated with agro-industrial companies. Small farmers suffer from ever-decreasing access to water. This is the case in France, for example, and Chile, where large reservoirs benefit mainly wealthy owners of large and water-intensive avocado farms.

According to a study by an international team of scientists, human-induced climate change has made droughts like the current one in the Horn of Africa up to 100 times more likely. Farming and shepherding households are most affected by the drought. They are of fundamental importance for the inhabitants’ food security, health and income. Since October 2020, large areas of East Africa have been experiencing prolonged rainless spells, interrupted by short, heavy downpours leading to flash floods. 4.35 million people need humanitarian aid there.

The Patagonian Cypress, known as Lañilawal (or Alerce Milenario), may be the oldest tree on Earth. According to one of the researchers, it has been growing for over 5,000 years. However, Lañilawal in Alerce Costero National Park needs more protection to survive. The greatest threat to it is drought – the climate in southern Chile is getting warmer and drier.

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