Uruguay: Drought - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF n° MDRUY003

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Since the beginning of 2018, there has been a significant reduction in availability and access to water due to a deficit caused by a lack of rain, which has been further affected by the La Niña phenomenon in the South American region.

The most affected departments in the country are Tacuarembó, Salto, Durazno and certain areas of Artigas, Paysandú, Rivera and Río Negro. In some areas, there is a considerable reduction in the levels of water in wells and dams, affecting the availability of water in the affected departments. In total, 95 per cent of the national population has potable water supply and access to it through water pipes, while the other 5 per cent use dams and storage tanks; this latter group of families have been directly affected by the water deficit, and the lack of water has considerably reduced available areas for growing crops and raising livestock, which has affected families’ food supply.

On 28 February 2018, the national government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP for its acronym in Spanish), declared an agricultural state of emergency for a period of 90 days for livestock and dairy farmers in the affected zones; this declaration facilitated the access to a loan for the purchase of soy bean husk and infrastructural improvements for farmers, and the government permitted affected farmers’ livestock to feed on grass near roads.

On 2 March 2018, the national government, through SINAE, sent a letter requesting the Uruguayan Red Cross’s participation in an assessment mission to determine the affected departments’ humanitarian needs.

According to SINAE’s forecasts issued on 6 March 2018, this drought could go on for two or three more months; although it could also last beyond the middle of the year.

This week’s rains have improved the situation in the southern part of the country; however, the drought is still affecting the northern and eastern areas targeted by this Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) operation