The Stream, January 29, 2020: Australia Drought Stimulus Packages Slow and Ineffective, Review Finds

The Global Rundown

A review by Ernst & Young finds that drought stimulus projects in Australian communities are slow and ineffective. Heavy flooding in Madagascar displaces at least 16,000 people. A major hydroelectric project in Portugal is set to replace coal-generated power in the country. A vessel runs aground on the Danube river in northern Bulgaria due to low water levels, blocking a key shipping route. A bushfire south of Australia’s capital city Canberra is upgraded to an emergency warning level. 

“Helicopters and large air tankers are water-bombing, establishing containment lines and undertaking aerial surveillance.” –A notice from Canberra, Australia, emergency services, in reference to a bushfire blazing south of the city, in Namadgi National Park. The fire was upgraded to an emergency warning level, and Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan says the fire “may pose threats to all lives directly in its path.” Cooler, wet weather is slowly beginning to alleviate the country’s bushfires, but more than 100 blazes remain. Reuters

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By The Numbers

$300 million Size of a drought relief scheme in Australia. The program provides funding to drought-hit communities, but a recent review by professional service firm Ernst & Young found several issues with the initiative. The analysis found that drought stimulus projects are moving slowly, and claims the overall program has shown “limited ability to target areas being economically affected because of drought.” The Guardian

16,000 People displaced by flooding across seven regions of Madagascar over the past week. Heavy rainfall inundated homes and washed away roadways, leaving more than 30 people dead. Officials warn that hunger and malnourishment could become an issue in flood-hit communities. Al Jazeera 

Science, Studies, and Reports

A major hydroelectric project is underway in northern Portugal, and Prime Minister Antonio Costa states the completed project will directly replace coal-generated power in the country. The hydroelectric complex, which involves three dams, plants, and a pumped-storage station, will likely be finished in 2023. Reuters

On the Radar

On Tuesday, a vessel ran aground along a stretch of the Danube river in northern Bulgaria due to low water levels. The vessel is holding up several other ships, and Bulgarain officials say they are unsure when the route will be reopened. The Danube is a major shipping route for petroleum products and east-to-west European grain exports. Reuters 

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