Australian state of New South Wales entirely in drought

All of the Australian state of New South Wales' 800,000 square kilometers of land area is now officially in drought. Farmers have been given permission to shoot kangaroos that compete with livestock for sparse pasture.

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) was declared completely in drought on Wednesday, the state government said.

Nature and Environment | 05.08.2018

While much of Australia's southeast is struggling with tough dry weather, this year the drought conditions in Australia's most populous state have been the driest and most widespread since 1965.

The situation in New South Wales

  • 100 percent of the state is in drought and one quarter is considered to be in "intense drought"
  • Dry weather conditions are forecast to continue for the next three months
  • Farmers are struggling with crop failure, water shortages and sparse food for their animals
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02:43 mins.
DW News | 01.08.2018

German farmers hit by continued drought

What caused the drought: Drought is not uncommon in Australia, but this year the winter in eastern and southern Australia was drier than expected and did not provide much needed water for farm lands, leaving farmers battling crop failure, water shortages and very little food for their animals. The NSW Department of Primary Industries said less than 10 millimeters of rain was recorded in the western, north-west and central areas of NSW over the past month. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that nationally, it was the driest July in Australia since 2002.

Who is affected: While the whole state has been declared in drought, the worst affected groups are the state's farmers and people living in regional communities. The lack of food for animals has resulted in farmers being forced to ship in grain or hay from other parts of the country to keep sheep and cattle alive, spending thousands of extra dollars each week just to get by, while others have had to shoot starving animals. In New South Wales state, agriculture contributes more than AU$15 billion (€9.6 billion, $11.1 billion) to the state's economy annually and employs more than 77,000 people. 

What's being done: On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a AU$ 190-million (€121.4-million, US$141-million) relief package that would provide each struggling farming family with an assistance package of two payments of up to AU$12,000 dollars (€7,680, US$8,900). Farmers have been given permission to shoot kangaroos that are competing with their livestock for sparse pastures. 

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

Australia: 'Land of drought'

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, addressing the drought in the state of New South Wales, which produces one-quarter of the country's agricultural output, said, "Now we are the land of drought." Australia recently passed legislation to provide hundreds of millions of dollars worth of relief aid to farmers, including funds for mental health support.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

Ethiopia: The end of nomadic life?

Ethiopia has been suffering from ongoing drought conditions since 2015, causing massive food shortages. The Ethiopian government said that some 8.5 million citizens required emergency food assistance in 2017 and that nearly 400,000 infants suffered acute malnutrition. Furthermore, the drought threatens to end traditional nomadic herding in the region.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

South Africa: The looming prospect of Day Zero

Conservation and late-season rains saved South Africa's Cape Town from an apocalyptic Day Zero scenario, in which water would have to be turned off and emergency rations issued, The drought, which was one of the worst in decades, emptied water reservoirs and caused some experts to suggest hauling icebergs from Antarctica avert a crisis.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

Europe: Withering crops

Europe's sweltering heat has been compounded by a lack of rain. Not only have citizens been suffering the health consequences, which affect health care systems and labor productivity, crops have also been hit hard. Farmers across the continent fear bankruptcy due to poor crops and the EU Joint Research Center predicts "an increase in drought frequency and intensity in the future."

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

Greece: Lost villages reappear as crops die

Greece has been facing the dual problem of flash flooding in some regions and drought in others. Crete's farmers said they could lose up to 40 percent of their crop this year due to an extremely dry winter. Though they are watering, they say it is not enough to nourish their crops. Water levels are so low that previously submerged villages have begun to reappear in reservoirs across the country.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

Sweden: Worst drought since 1944

Sweden, which has not seen rain for over three months, is experiencing its worst drought since 1944. The situation threatens to cause severe crop losses costing farmers hundreds of thousands of euros. Sweden has been the site of massive forest fires and has even seen temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Arctic Circle.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

UK: 'Tinderbox conditions'

The United Kingdom fears serious threats to its food supply chain due to the effects of this summer's drought. The country's National Farmers Union said the country is experiencing "tinderbox conditions." This adds to problems brought on by the prospect of needed self-reliance in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

India: Running out of water

India has been plagued by water shortages due to rising population and mismanagement but also aggravated by drought, causing many areas of the country to run out of water. Bangalore was recently added to the list of global cities most likely to run out of drinking water. Other cities on the list include Cape Town, South Africa; Jakarta, Indonesia and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Global desert: Drought turning the planet into a tinderbox

USA: Back to the Dust Bowl

The US government said 29 percent of the country is currently experiencing drought, with conditions affecting some 75 million people. Although wildfires in California have captured the world's attention, farming states, like Kansas, have once again been suffering. Kansas was one of the states crippled by the famous 1930s Dust Bowl.

law/rt (AP, AFP, dpa)

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