Severe drought spreads in Portugal, officials seek EU help
Around 90% of mainland Portugal is suffering from drought, with severe drought alone affecting one-fifth of its territory, twice as much as in March and nearly five times the area reported a year earlier.
PORTUGAL: Drought spread across almost all of mainland Portugal during an unusually hot and dry April, the meteorology agency IPMA said on Wednesday, and officials have requested aid from Brussels for the struggling farming sector. Around 90% of mainland Portugal is suffering from drought, with severe drought alone affecting one-fifth of its territory, twice as much as in March and nearly five times the area reported a year earlier. Some parts are in an extreme drought situation, which did not exist at the same time in 2022.
The northeast and southern regions were particularly badly hit, and the dry weather conditions were expected to continue. With temperatures above normal for this time of the year, the agency said April 2023 was the third-driest and fourth-warmest in the last 92 years in mainland Portugal.
It added that the most affected regions were the interior in northern and central Portugal, the Alentejo region, and the eastern part of the Algarve in the south. Agriculture Minister Maria do Ceu Antunes said on Monday the dry weather was affecting agriculture and water reservoirs, and the ministry had asked the European Commission to address the situation, expecting its firm support.
The Portuguese Farmers Confederation told news agency Lusa that cereal production and livestock are among the sectors most affected by the drought. Slaughter of herds may become inevitable, it said. Large swathes of the Iberian Peninsula have suffered from early-season heatwaves that exacerbated a long drought and caused widlfires amid growing concerns that climate change will only make the situation worse.
Neighbouring Spain has registered the driest start to a year since records started, its weather agency AEMET said on Wednesday, with less than half the average rainfall during the first four months of 2023. The lack of rain has put water management under the spotlight, particularly around the Donana wetland in Andalusia, endangered by climate change and illegal irrigation.
The average water level in reservoirs in Catalonia and Andalusia - the worst hit areas - stands at around 25%.