Everyone in Brazil who depends on the Amazon and its tributaries to make a living — from family farmers like Lira to owners of riverside restaurants and leaders of multinational firms — is reeling from the worst drought in the region’s history. It’s another stressor on the already fragile health of the Amazon rainforest.
Experts blame a combination of the El Niño weather phenomenon combined with heating in the Atlantic Ocean, likely aggravated by the climate crisis. They say severe droughts in the Amazon and other extreme weather events will likely increase and intensify as global temperatures rise, adding extra pressure to one of the world’s most challenging business environments.
The drought has directly affected some 600,000 people in Amazonas state, and all of its 62 municipalities have declared a state of emergency. Nearly four times the size of California, Amazonas covers an area of about 600,000 square miles, much of which is only accessible via plane or boat.
Brazil’s government announced measures to combat the drought at the beginning of October, including 138 million reais ($28 million) of federal funds to dredging the lower reaches of the Amazon River, near Manaus, and the mouth of the Rio Madeira, a major tributary.