Brazil sends emergency aid to drought-hit Amazon state

Brazil announced Thursday it will send emergency aid to an Amazon state that is enduring severe drought, with low water levels killing many fish, a key source of food for the Indigenous people who live there.

The state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil is the country’s largest by surface area, includes much of the Amazon rainforest and is home to some four million people, the vast majority of them Indigenous.

The central government is working with local authorities to provide food, drinking water and medicine, said Environment Minister Marina Silva.

She said 56 of the state’s 62 municipalities are threatened.

A drought emergency was declared Wednesday in 15 towns, with a total population of 111,000, the civil defense department of the state government said.

“We expect around 300,000 parcels of food will be needed to help the population meet their basic food needs,” said Silva.

Besides killing fish in rivers, low water levels are also affecting travel by local waterways, which is key in Amazonas.

The region is suffering from the weather phenomenon known as El Nino, which reduces formation of clouds and thus means less rain.

The drought, which follows heavy rains earlier in the year, reflects conditions that experts attribute to global warming.

“Brazil is a vulnerable country,” said Silva, recalling a recent storm that killed nearly 50 people in Rio Grande do Sul state.