The Stream, April 30, 2020: Czech Republic Faces Worst Drought in 500 Years

The Global Rundown

Communities in the Czech Republic may exhaust their water supplies as the country faces the worst drought in 500 years. Low water levels in the Mekong, plus challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, imperil food security in Cambodia. Drought-hit Argentina struggles to provide water as the coronavirus crisis unfolds. Human activity and climate change continue to degrade the U.S. Great Lakes. More than 5 million Yemeni children are at risk from cholera and diarrhea as the country receives a deluge of rain. 

“We are facing an unprecedented drought period, both in its duration and its impact. Smaller rivers will dry out, there may be tens, perhaps hundreds of communities supplied by cisterns, because their sources may dry out.” –Richard Brabec, the Czech environment minister, in reference to new data showing that the country is enduring its worst dry spell in 500 years. A new map produced by the Environment Ministry shows that three-quarters of the country is facing extreme drought, while only 0.1 percent is experiencing a normal level of water in the soil. Conditions in the Czech Republic have been drier-than-average for the past five years. Thomas Reuters Foundation  

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By The Numbers

48 million+ U.S. citizens who rely on drinking water supplied by the Great Lakes. Landmark environmental laws in the 1970s alleviated heavy industrial pollution in the lakes, but new problems resulting from human activity, like fertilizers from farms and lawns, are continuing to emerge. The lakes have also been affected by climate change, experiencing a rise in toxic algae blooms and other phenomena linked to warming temperatures. The Conversation 

13 percent of normal Current flow of the Iguazu River, which feeds Iguazu Falls, one of South America’s major tourist hotspots. The falls, plus most Argentinian waterways, are shrinking to a trickle as drought overwhelms the country. South America’s current rainy season is drawing to a close, meaning that Argentina likely faces another several months without adequate precipitation. The drought and the coronavirus crisis are constricting water access in several communities. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

Heavy rainfall is deluging parts of Yemen, leaving 5 million children at risk of cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhea, the United Nations warns. The severe weather could also raise risks associated with Covid-19, although only a single case has been confirmed in the war-torn country so far. UNICEF

On the Radar

Countries along the Mekong River are struggling in the face of severe drought, but Cambodia is among the hardest-hit. In December of last year, the country reported that 45,000 hectares of rice paddies had been devastated by drought, and a majority of the country continues to grapple with freshwater shortages. The coronavirus pandemic is further exacerbating food security concerns in the country. Foreign Policy 

In context: One By One Big Hydropower Dams Disrupt Mekong River’s Free Flow

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