Argentina: Drought, DREF Plan of Action MDRAR017

Situation Report
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A. Analysis of the situation

Description of the disaster

Salta Province in northern Argentina, is facing an emergency due to severe drought since the end of 2019 which has caused a significant decrease in water availability, crop losses and shortages of wild animals typical of their diet, impacting the nutritional status of the population, especially children under five years. From January 2020 to date, at least eight deaths of children due to acute malnutrition have been reported, with 32 children hospitalized.

Given this situation, the Minister of Social Development declared a social and health emergency in the affected departments of San Martín, Rivadavia, and Oran, located in the northwest of the Salta province (formally by decree No. 140/2020) on 29 January 2020. The decree is in force for a period of 180 days to implement measures for food security, health care and safe water for the inhabitants of the northern province. On February 6th, the IFRC and ARC met with the Salta branch, including the Governor of the Salta province. The Government of Salta issued a request for assistance to the Argentine Red Cross describing the urgent need to meet WASH minimum standards.

At regular periods of the year, the average decrease in seasonal rainfall and drought is often 45 to 60 days, culminating at the beginning of the last quarter of the year. However, this situation has been prolonged up to now, with the drought continuing for more than 150 days.1 In addition to low forecasts of rainfall below 50% and an increase in temperatures of more than 50%, according to the National Meteorological Service.

The drought is directly affecting the quality of life of people since September 2019 (graphic below) due to the low production of food, the effects on livestock and, consequently, the significant decrease people's daily consumption of food. Children under five, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are the groups most at risk of death from acute malnutrition caused by food shortages, poor nutrition, and difficult access to safe water.