The Stream, November 28: Madagascar Drought Raises Specter Of Famine

The Global Rundown

Food shortages driven by consecutive years of drought could deteriorate into a famine affecting more than a quarter million people in Madagascar. A drought in Zimbabwe has highlighted shortfalls in Harare’s water infrastructure, and a deepening drought in the southeastern United States may dry up water supplies in some small towns. Officials in Saudi Arabia anticipate the kingdom will need billions of dollars in water system investments over the next five years. The struggling owner of one of Peru’s largest irrigation systems plans to sell its stake in the project.

“It’s not working, the pipes haven’t had water in them for a while and have rusted. I don’t ever remember taking a shower.” –Evidence Kanyombo, an 18-year-old resident of Harare, remarking on the chronic lack of running water in Zimbabwe’s capital. A severe drought has exacerbated problems caused by aging infrastructure. (BBC Africa)

By The Numbers

$53.3 billion Amount Saudi Arabia will require to maintain and expand its water supply infrastructure over the next five years, according to government officials. Much of the investment, they say, will need to come from the private sector. Agence France-Presse

43,500 hectares Area irrigated by the Olmos irrigation project, which brings water through the Andes to the northern Peru desert. The project, owned by Brazilian corporation Odebrecht SA, is being sold to two companies based in Canada and France. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Officials with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have reported that 330,000 people in Madagascar are “on the verge of a food security catastrophe, next step being famine.” Three years of drought mean that many communities have few resources left to deal with the current crisis, and international aid appeals remain underfunded. Guardian

On The Radar

Drought conditions continue to worsen in the southeastern United States, where officials in some states have implemented water restrictions and others have resorted to tearing down beaver dams to release river flows. Georgia is particularly hard-hit, and reservoirs levels have plummeted in some towns. Associated Press

In context: Read how the drought is raising questions about the adequacy of local and state water management in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.