Colombia’s Comptroller’s Office released a report stating that agriculture and oil exploration projects are largely responsible for the drought in Colombia’s eastern state of Casanare.
Agricultural, infrastructure, and oil exploration projects are responsible for the severity of the drought in eastern Casanare, according to an investigation conducted by the Comptroller’s office.
The investigation centered on the eastern municipality of Paz de Ariporo, one of the areas most severely affected by the draught. Between December 2013, when the drought began, and March 2014, there were 1522 fires in Casanare, of which 39% where in Paz de Ariporo, according to the report.
According to the findings, cattle ranching and rice production have caused long term environmental changes that have contributed to the current conditions, including the redirecting of waterways for irrigation. Water has also been diverted for road construction, affecting the replenishment of aquifers and the long-term stability of rivers in Paz de Ariporo.
The report also pointed to oil exploration in Paz de Ariporo as being conducting improperly, saying that “the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) has not paid attention to their own manual and recommendations for oil exploration,” or done the studies necessary before commencing oil exploration.
The investigative team consisted of representatives from:
– Environmental Licenses Authority (ANLA)
– National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH)
– Municipality of Paz de Ariporo
The report also concluded that agencies responsible for the regulation of hydrocarbon exploration, protection of the environment, and land management do not have a sufficient budget to carry out their duties.
Colombia’s weather institute (IDEAM), has put the state of Casanare on red alert since January 2014 due to a severe drought that has killed over 9,000 animals this year.
- Contraloría determina responsabilidades en desastre ambiental de Paz de Ariporo (Comptroller press release)