Colombia’s Senate is set to discuss contingency plans on the impacts of El Niño and overall climate change on Colombia’s economy, Colombian media reported on Monday.
Senator Mauricio Lizcano called upon Colombia’s Agriculture, Housing, Environment, and Interior Ministries to explain the measures the government has put in place to tackle El Niño, a weather phenomenon characterized by intense heat, extreme weather, and prolonged dry spells, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
“If Colombia does not take steps to prevent this kind of crisis, it will affect its economic growth, its food supply, its energy growth, and energy costs are going to increase,” said Senator Lizcano.
Senator Lizcano’s push for government to focus on preventative rather than reactive measures is shared by climate change expert Dr. Andrew Jarvis.
“I think there’s a lot more that can be done to have better predictions and move the country away from being reactive and being centered on crisis response. The trouble is, what this requires is massive amounts of cooperation from the central government down to the regional governments and the local institutions. And that’s never an easy thing,” said Dr. Jarvis in a recent interview with Colombia Reports.
Severe drought a humanitarian crisis
Colombia is already experiencing severe droughts in its northern coastal region. Although the current droughts are considered to be part of the dry season, they are expected to be exacerbated by the arrival of El Niño, expected in July, August, or September, according the the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM).
Colombia’s drought currently affects more than 171 municipalities and has the potential to put 70,000 families at risk of experiencing a humanitarian crisis. Roughly 67,000 animals have already died, 44,479 acres of crops have been damaged and 10,000 jobs have been affected, according to El Tiempo.
Several states have also been put on high alert for forest fires, death of livestock, destruction of agriculture, and severe water shortages.
“The damage that the current drought has caused demonstrates that although there have been countless warnings, Colombia is not prepared to tackle this problem, and the worst is yet to come. El Niño is still to come and yet we remain unprepared,” said Senator Lizcano.
Every year Colombia loses half a point of its GDP as a result of damage caused by climate change, according to Senator Lizcano.
- Citan en Senado a cuatro ministros para que respondan por la sequía (El Tiempo)
- Interview with Dr. Andrew Jarvis (Colombia Reports)