The Heat Is Online

More Than Half of Mexico Declared Drought Emergency

Mexican drought disaster grows

Donna Pistilli Sauer, *TWC) May 29, 19999

Disaster declarations in drought-ravaged Mexico covered more than half the country after another state was granted emergency aid Friday.

Nuevo Leon, home to the northern industrial capital of Monterrey, became the 10th Mexican state granted federal aid in recent weeks to combat the extreme drought. An 11th state, Queretaro, is being considered for aid as well, officials said Friday.

Many reservoirs and lakes across northern Mexico have run dry and others are down to 10 percent of their normal capacity, said the state of Sinaloa's Gov. Juan Millan. "This drought is the most serious we have ever had in the state of Sinaloa," he added.

Farmers and villagers in the dust-blown state of Sonora told reporters that this is the worst drought in living memory. Cattle are dying of thirst and starvation and many calves are being stillborn, said cattleman Francisco Calles Ramirez.

In the town of San Jose de Batuc, there has been no rain since August 1998, and the little that fell made virtually no difference to a region now entering its fifth consecutive drought year. "We are afraid what will happen if there is no rain by July," said Remedio Lopez, a local resident. "There is no water in the dam."

The disaster areas in Mexico include 447 municipalities in 10 states: Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas.

Reuters Limited contributed to this report

May 26, 1999

MEXICO CITY -- (Reuters) -- The governors of five parched Mexican states not included in a drought disaster zone declared this week for much of northern Mexico are clamouring for aid, reports said on the weekend. "There is no reason for our state being excluded," Zacatecas Gov. Ricardo Monreal Avila told El Universal newspaper.

A quarter of the ranchers in Zacatecas are running out of water for their thin or dying cattle, towns and farming cooperatives have emptied out as crop areas turn into dust bowls, and fires rage in the arid hills, according to El Universal.

The drought covers about one third of Mexico, officials say, and is the result of several years with low rainfall followed by a nine-month period of extremely low rain fall in 1998 and 1999.

On Thursday the government declared disaster zones in Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Sinaloa and Sonora, five northern states where reservoirs are empty or down to 10 percent to 20 percent of normal capacity.

Sinaloa Gov. Juan Millan told Universal that nine months without rain meant 1.5 million tons of basic grains would not be harvested this year in his state, causing an eight percent contraction in the economy.

But Zacatecas, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi and Baja California Sur say they also need the federal disaster funds that the other five now have access to.
(C) Reuters Limited 1999.