The water level at a major river port in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has reached its lowest point in at least 121 years, as a catastrophic drought upends the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and affects the ecosystem of the jungle. This has not happened in at least 121 years.
The swift drying up of tributaries that feed into the giant Amazon river has caused boats to become trapped, cutting off food and water supplies to remote jungle towns. Additionally, it is feared that high water temperatures have caused the deaths of over one hundred endangered river dolphins.
According to the information provided on its website, the water level at the port in Manaus, which is the most populated city in the region and is located at the point where the Negro river and the Amazon river meet, was 13.59 meters (44.6 feet) on Monday. Since records were first kept in 1902, this is the lowest level ever recorded, surpassing the previous all-time low, which was reached in 2010.
Pedro Mendonca, a resident of an Amazon rainforest town, was relieved when a Brazilian non-governmental organization (NGO) sent supplies to his riverbank settlement near Manaus late last week. The area had been dry for several months.
“We have gone three months without rain here in our community,” said Mendonca, who lives in Santa Helena do Inglês, which is west of Manaus, the capital city of Amazonas state. Mendonca resides in Santa Helena do Inglês because he is an English speaker. It is significantly hotter than any of the previous droughts.
According to the Brazilian government’s disaster alarm service Cemaden, several regions of the Amazon saw the lowest levels of rainfall from July to September since the beginning of records keeping in 1980.
The Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology attributes the drought to the beginning of the climate phenomena known as El Nio, which is responsible for generating extreme weather patterns around the world. In statement this month, the ministry stated that it expects the drought to continue for at least until the month of December, which is when the effects of El Nio are projected to reach their climax.
According to the civil defense office in the state of Amazonas, which is where Manaus is situated, the number of individuals who have been affected by the drought as of Monday was 481,000.
Late in the week prior, members of the Brazilian non-governmental organization Fundaço Amazônia Sustentáve (FAS) dispersed themselves around the arid region close to Manaus in order to give food and other supplies to residents in vulnerable village areas. Their access to food, drinking water, and medications, all of which are typically transported by river, has been compromised as a result of the drought.
Nelson Mendonca, a leader in Santa Helena do Inglês, stated that although some regions could still be reached by canoe, many boats had not been able to travel on the river to provide supplies. As a result, things were being transported by tractors or on foot instead of by canoe.
After the water levels in Santa Helena do Inglês were dropped due to the drought, Luciana Valentin, who also lives in Santa Helena do Inglês, stated that she was concerned about the quality of the local water level.
“Our children are getting diarrhea, vomiting, and often having fever because of the water,” she said. “We are going to have to find another source of water.”