Drought In Portugal Intensifies

Crops, Water Supplies, Energy At Risk

1 Mar 2022 by The Water Diplomat
LISBON, Portugal

The Portuguese Agriculture Minister Maria do Céu Antunes has partnered with her Spanish counterpart to ask the European Union for help to tackle the crisis.

January, usually the second most rainy month of the year has been this year the 6th driest month in Portugal since 1931. The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) has reported an average precipitation of 13.9 mm in 2022 in contrast to a January average of 120 mm.

These figures are worse than those registered in 2017, a year when the country was devastated by uncontrollable wild fires. IPMA forecasts an intensification of the dry weather for the coming weeks as 90% of the country is already in severe or extreme drought.

Water restrictions are being implemented, tankers are taking water to the most affected regions and production of electricity has been suspended in five dams.

João Matos Fernandes, the Portuguese Environment and Climate Action Minister has allocated $5.6 Million USD to help farmers deal with the effects of the crisis and most particularly with feeding cattle.

The minister has stated that droughts in Portugal are here to stay and have become structural. However, he remains optimistic about the country’s ability to deal with it: “There is enough water in Portugals reservoirs for two years of human consumption even if it never rains, which is an unthinkable scenario.”