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Bolivia Declares Water Emergency, El Niño Blamed

"We have to be prepared for the worst," says Bolivia’s president.

by Meredith Rutland Bauer
Nov 22 2016, 11:00am

Image: ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP Photo/Juan Karita

Bolivia is deep in the middle of a punishing drought, likely caused by the El Niño system in the Pacific last winter. It's gotten so bad that taps have dried up, and the president has declared a national emergency.

The El Niño, a system of unusually warm water in the Pacific, significantly alters weather patterns over the fall and winter when it hits land, causing drier conditions in Central America and wetter conditions in North America and parts of South America.

"We have to be prepared for the worst," Morales said at a press conference, the Guardian reported. He also told press the country will use this drought as an opportunity to invest in strategies to adapt to climate change impacts.

The El Niño system caused or exacerbated Bolivia's drought, which prompted Bolivian President Evo Morales to issue a state of emergency and to ask local governments to drill wells and deliver water to residents, the Guardian reported.

The drought is the worst Bolivia has seen in 25 years and has affected 125,000 families. Homes had only had three hours of water every three days recently, and no rain is forecast until December, according to Al Jazeera.

Bolivia also faced a major drought in 2010, which caused nearly 50,000 wildfires. The winter of 2009-10 also brought an El Niño system, although it was significantly weaker than the 2015-16 El Niño, according to NOAA.

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