Cuba: Drought Concerns and Impacts

Report
from National Drought Mitigation Center
Published on 01 Aug 1998
Only 56% of seasonal rainfall has fallen on Cuba with the eastern portion of the country being hardest hit in the provinces of Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantanamo (with rainfall getting progressively better to the west). Rainfall from April-June (usually heavy rainfall months) has been the lowest since 1941. Many water sources have also dried up (reserve levels are at 30% in the 21 most-affected municipalities in eastern Cuba) and it is feared that this weather pattern will continue for some time.

Cuban authorities estimate $180 million in losses so far affecting 22,000 farmers and ranchers. A United Nations team estimated 539,000 people, 280,000 of them farmers, were directly affected by reduced availability of food or reduced income through production losses. Some reported effects are: hunger in areas; a loss of up to 14% of the sugar cane crop planted last year and a reduction in this spring's planted crops, since rains were not sufficient for some seeds to germinate (which will reduce next year's crop); as much as 42% losses in food staples such as root vegetables, beans, bananas, and rice in the five eastern provinces; and livestock, poultry, and egg production losses.

To respond to the drought: the government has requested United Nations food and technical assistance, the World Food Programme is shipping $7 million in emergency food to feed 500,000 people for six months, tanker trucks are hauling water for 75,000 cattle, 10,000 cattle have been moved south from Holguin province to better water supplies, and water tankers are providing for 45,000 households in Las Tunas and 350,000 people in the province of Holguin (dams in Holguin province, which serve 628,000 people, are reported to be less than a month from drying up so the government is attempting to divert water from dams further away).