Spain and Portugal battling extreme drought

The Mediano reservoir in the Pyrenees in Huesca province in Aragon, Spain, on Sunday. Almost all of the Spanish territory has been experiencing drought in recent months, a situation that has led national water reservoirs to record their lowest levels
The Mediano reservoir in the Pyrenees in Huesca province in Aragon, Spain, on Sunday. Almost all of the Spanish territory has been experiencing drought in recent months, a situation that has led national water reservoirs to record their lowest levels in the last 22 years.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID • Spain and Portugal are grappling with a devastating drought which has left rivers nearly dry, sparked deadly wildfires and devastated crops - and experts warn that prolonged dry spells will become more frequent.

Nearly all of Portugal has suffered extreme drought conditions during the last six months, which has not happened since 2005. A majority of Spain has also received considerably less rain than it normally would.

"It's a ruinous situation," said Mr Jose Ramon Gonzalez, a small rancher in Spain's normally rainy northwestern region of Galicia. Due to the scarcity of grass, Mr Gonzalez was forced to spend thousands of euros to buy fodder for his cattle in July, four months earlier than normal. "There are rivers, springs, which neither I, at the age of 45, nor my parents, nor my grandparents, have seen dry which have dried up," he said.

About 1.38 million hectares of grains, sunflowers and olive trees have been affected by drought or frost in Spain as at the end of last month.

The situation is just as dire for farmers across the border in neighbouring Portugal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Spain and Portugal battling extreme drought'. Print Edition | Subscribe