Chile drought causing water shortage amidst virus crisis

  • Sunday 05, April 2020 04:49 PM
  • Chile drought causing water shortage amidst virus crisis
Sharjah24 – AFP: With historically low river flows and reservoirs running dry due to drought, people in central Chile have found themselves particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.
Years of resource exploitation and lax legislation have allowed most reservoirs in that part of the country to run dry.

"There are now 400,000 families, nearly 1.5 million people approximately, whose supply of 50 liters of water a day depends on tankers," Rodrigo Mundaca, spokesman for the Movement for the Defense of Water, the Earth and the Protection of the Environment said.

One of the main pieces of advice to protect people against coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly.

In the greater Santiago area and in Valparaiso, rainfall last year was almost 80 percent below the previous record low. In the northern region of Coquimbo it was down 90 percent.

Water tankers serve many homes, whose inhabitants come out to fill drums.

Chilean law states that water is a resource for public use, but it turned over almost the entirety of the right to exploit the resource to the private sector.

Chile has reported more than 3,700 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths.

Private exploitation of water wasn't a problem in times of abundance, as was the case until recently.

But the drought has brought a furious reaction from communities that have run out of water in a country that saw an outbreak of social unrest in October that only subsided when social distancing measures were imposed.