The Stream, March 14: Argentina Infrastructure Spending Spree Aims To Curb Floods

The Global Rundown

Argentina is allocating billions of dollars to improve its canals and stormwater systems to ease floods in key agricultural regions. Nearly 1 million people in Sri Lanka are facing food shortages due to a drought. Drought conditions contributed to a massive mangrove dieback in Australia, scientists found. Zimbabwe may continue to buy electricity from South Africa to make up hydropower shortfalls. City officials in Cape Town, South Africa are bracing for an extended drought that has already depleted reservoir levels. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the government is struggling to address informal settlements near key water reservoirs.

“It is short-sighted not to protect these watersheds, despite the pressure to house these people.” –Jutta Gutberlet, a professor of geography at the University of Victoria, referring to informal settlements near the Guarapiranga reservoir in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The reservoir supplies water to more than 4 million people, and sewage from the settlements is seen as a pollution hazard. Residents of the settlements, however, argue that the problem is the government’s failure to provide adequate sanitation services. (Reuters)

In context: Learn how a recent drought uncovered major problems in Sao Paulo’s water supply system.

By The Numbers

$10 billion Amount Argentina plans to invest in canals and stormwater systems over the next four years to reduce floods, like those that inundated 2 million hectares of farmland this season. Unauthorized canals built by farmers to drain their fields have also worsened flooding in nearby cities. Reuters

900,000 people Number experiencing acute food insecurity in Sri Lanka after a drought cut the most recent rice harvest by 63 percent. Reuters

$40 million Amount Zimbabwe’s state electric utility owes South Africa’s Eskom utility for power imports. Zimbabwe bought electricity from South Africa last year to make up for a steep decline in hydropwer production, and the two utilities are negotiating an extension to the deal. Reuters

In context: Learn how droughts pose challenges for electricity production across sub-Saharan Africa.

Science, Studies, And Reports

Scientists at James Cook University in Australia say a rapid dieback of mangroves along the Gulf of Carpentaria in 2016 was likely caused by a combination of drought, high water and air temperatures, and a drop in sea levels linked to the El Nino weather pattern. The dieback killed 7,400 hectares of trees along the coast. “The mangroves appear to have died of thirst,” they conclude. The Conversation

On The Radar

After declaring Cape Town, South Africa a disaster area earlier this month, city officials are engaged in contingency planning in case the current drought deepens. Dam reservoirs are at 30 percent of capacity, and the city estimates water supplies will last another 105 days. News 24