Brazil’s Recent Drought Impacts Coffee and Orange ProductionBrazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee and oranges. The country produces around a third of the world’s coffee and orange supply. In addition, Brazil exports the largest amount of Arabica coffee beans and orange juice. However, with the recent drought in Brazil, the crops that rely on irrigation, such as orange trees and coffee plants, are suffering. Coffee and orange production is declining, impacting the supply chain of both products around the world and putting a heavy burden on Brazilian farmers.

Impact on Coffee and Orange Crops

Brazil is currently facing one of the worst droughts in the country’s history. The agricultural regions in Brazil, particularly the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, are generally tropical, but they are suffering from dry soil and scarce water reservoirs. Brazilian farmers started turning on irrigation systems for orange and coffee crops early, in fear of the lack of rainfall and limited water reservoirs with the dry season approaching. However, coffee production is taking even more of a hit due to 2021 being a “limited year.” Coffee production runs on a biennial cycle, meaning while there will be a higher production of coffee during one year, the next year will yield a lower amount of coffee from the same trees.

This year’s crop production indicates that if the drought continues, it will severely impact the orange and coffee supply. The past season’s orange production decreased by 31% in comparison to the last season and estimates project that coffee production for the 2021-2022 crop cycle will drop by the same percentage. More specifically, Arabica coffee may see a decline in production of “between 32.4% and 39.1%.” With coffee trees not receiving enough moisture and orange groves experiencing ripeness inconsistencies, coffee and orange production is decreasing.

Overall Consequences of Drought

With the lack of coffee and orange production, the supply of these crops is limited. Limited supply and high demand are driving up the prices of both products, particularly coffee. The prices going up for these popular crops indicates that the products will be more inaccessible due to expensive price points.  Already, wholesale coffee prices have surged at a record high in comparison to recent years; the rate for Arabica coffee reached almost $1.70 per pound this year, which is a 60% increase from 2020. Along with higher coffee price points, orange prices are expected to rise and there may be an orange juice shortage.

Overall, Brazil is a large agricultural hub, not only producing coffee and oranges but also other vital crops, such as sugar cane and corn. Therefore, “the drought is also hurting key farming states, at a time when the agricultural sector has been driving Brazil’s economic recovery, with growth of 5.7% in the first quarter.” However, the drought not only affects the supply chain but also the farmers themselves. Farmers are selling coffee for very low prices and have had to even renegotiate prices with traders. The drought negatively affects everyone in the supply chain, however, farmers and their families depend on the income they get from selling crops.

The MAIS Program Provides a Solution

While there is no solution to directly combat the drought in Brazil, there are organizations that help farmers with agricultural technology and even an organization that helps farmers when it comes to climate crises. The MAIS Program uses different strategies in order “to help farmers plan for drought-intensive periods.” Some of its initiatives include modules with the ability to provide income to farmers with technical assistance. The organization provides solutions to farmers, including using the Opuntia-ficus cactus “as a substitute for corn and a biophysical water and food storage system” and planting drought-resistant trees. This program is designed to help farmers adapt to changes in weather and ensure food security in Brazil.

Every dollar that goes into the program generates $7 in the Jacuipe Basin of Brazil, among other impacts. Programs like MAIS help farmers deal with the impact of weather on crops, including the drought in Brazil that is affecting coffee and orange production.

– Karuna Lakhiani
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Mali
As the 12th poorest country in Africa, Mali has remained poverty-stricken for many years. Malnutrition issues, lack of education and conflict are the main causes of poverty in Mali.

The average wage in Mali is $1.25 per day, and more than half of the population currently lives below the international poverty line. This contributes to Mali being one of the least developed countries in the world. The average life expectancy of adults in Mali is 55, due to malnutrition and the lack of access to clean water.

Mali is mostly self-sufficient in the food market. Many people work on farms in order to grow crops to provide for their families and communities. Mali faces many issues involving its climate and landscape. Two-thirds of Mali is desert, meaning that immediately, droughts become a serious issue. With poor soils, millions find it difficult to grow the crops they need and due to low wages, they are unable to buy what their family demands. As a result, malnutrition becomes a leading issue and is the main factor of poverty in Mali.

Poor education facilities across the country have led to poverty across Mali and as poverty heightens, the level of education deteriorates further. School enrollment is currently at 67% and across the country, the adult literacy rate is 38.7%. This is one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, as the global average stands at 86%. This figure shows that the level of education needs to be higher, which means that facilities need to be improved and the level of teaching must be higher.

The current conflict is adding to the problems revolving around poverty in Mali as over half a million families are affected. As the conflict continues, Malians are fleeing to neighboring countries in seek of asylum. Families continue to live in poverty as food shortages continue to be an issue. As people are moving away from Mali, they are not earning enough money to provide their families with what they need.

The United Nations World Food Programme is aiding Mali by providing nutritional support to those who still live there. In 2013, around 125 thousand people were provided with food support in the north of the country. Others in the south are also aided while they work on community-building projects. The program is helping to provide citizens with money to buy fresh vegetables and meat, which not only helps to provide for families but also to boost the local economy.

Georgia Boyle

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Ethiopia
Erratic rainfall negatively affects the water quality in Ethiopia and can cause famine and food shortage. In addition, war diverts resources that could be used for clean water projects.

Essential for survival, water is something most people can access very easily. The number of people in Ethiopia with access to clean water has doubled, from 29 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2015. Yet 41 percent of the population lacks adequate access to safe water.

Ethiopia has endured four severe droughts since 1974 and is currently facing the worst drought it has seen in 50 years. The water crisis can be attributed not only to severe drought but also to lack of government funding and infrastructure.

Best-selling author and YouTuber John Green went to Ethiopia with Bill Gates. “When I asked people about their greatest needs, almost all of them–from the Women’s Health Army volunteers to children–cited clean water first.”

Women spend hours every day carrying 50-pound cans filled with clean water for their families. Because of the distance that many women must travel to get clean water, families often utilize any water they have access to, regardless of its safety.

One method of improving water quality in Ethiopia is to implement rainwater harvesting techniques. Rainwater harvesting initiatives have helped those facing drought in India, China and Mexico and could be the answer to improving water quality in Ethiopia on a widespread basis. Rainwater harvesting helps people provide themselves with clean water from a reliable source that can last through even the driest seasons.

When asked about rainwater harvesting by the BBC, Dennis Garrity of the World Agroforestry Centre said, “Ethiopia, often regarded as a dry country, could collect enough for half a billion people…The time has come to realize the great potential for greatly enhancing drinking water supplies…by harvesting more of the rain when and where it falls.”

In a study assessing the impact of rainwater harvesting systems in the Abreha Weatsbeha watershed, the community utilized sustainable land management methods such as integrated soil and water conservation practices. Farmers learned to use conservation structures and vegetation in the upper part of watersheds to contribute to the amount of groundwater discharged in the lower part of the catchment.

The groundwater table is now only three meters beneath the surface, even in the driest season (it was previously 15 meters underground). Farmers now have their own shallow irrigation wells and the community has 388 hand-dug wells. The people in Abreha Weatsbeha call these groundwater ponds their “water bank.” Thanks to the “water banks” rainwater harvesting systems create, quality of life and water in Ethiopia can greatly improve.

Mary Barringer

In the last century, droughts have killed 11 million people and affected 2 billion more through crop failure and reduced drinking water. The U.S. has lost a total of $195 billion to related economic recovery.

The most well-known drought occurred in the 1930s. Due to overpopulation and poor soil conservation, much of the Southwest in the U.S. became nothing but plowed fields.

When the drought dried out the dirt, the wind picked it up and whipped it into a colossal dust devil that darkened the sun. The severe conditions forced 400,000 people to relocate out of harm’s way. This period became known as the Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties.

Decades of study have lent scientists some insight into what causes droughts, such as disrupted weather patterns and our own human impact.

First, droughts commonly occur when disrupted weather patterns significantly alter water cycles. This year’s El Niño will disrupt storm patterns by increasing ocean temperatures, causing droughts in Australia, Indonesia and northeastern parts of South America.

Wind patterns sometimes block much-needed precipitation from certain areas for a time. Some experts speculate that global warming is the cause of many recent droughts.

The effects of a drought can impact areas that are a good distance away from the drought itself. If the mouth of a river doesn’t receive sufficient moisture from rain or melting snow, communities that reside downstream will suffer from the lack of water.

This is especially crucial in developing countries that still rely on rivers and streams for their water supply.

Secondly, humans can play a large part in drought development. Deforestation inhibits the soil’s ability to retain moisture. Trees pull water into the ground and anchor the soil, preventing soil erosion.

Dam construction, while a good method for retaining water, restricts the flow of water to downstream areas, which can severely impact vegetation, wildlife and people if not closely monitored.

As was the case with the Dust Bowl, mistreatment of crop soil can lead to desertification, in which soil becomes too compacted to absorb water and takes on an arid quality.

Though scientists are still conducting research on what causes droughts, they have developed several techniques that will reduce drought risk. Improved meteorology technology predicts approaching droughts, giving communities time to prepare.

Economically developed countries prevent and fight droughts by cutting back on water usage, replacing lawns with drought-friendly turf and installing water-saving toilets.

Farmers in any country can combat drought by rotating crops, allowing the soil to rest and reabsorb water. Emergency water kits, which are staples of almost any emergency aid organization, provide relief to drought-ridden areas as they wait for the next rainfall.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: UNL, National Geographic, BBC, LOC, Water
Photo: Pixabay

How Climate Change Has Impacted GirlsClimate change has brought about droughts, unpredictable rainfall, and floods which affect every region, gender, and race. However, girls have been affected greatly by the impact of this climate change. Families who live off of their land are forced to take their girls out of school so they can make up for the income lost due to climate change. Droughts and flooding have impacted these farmers and their crops. To make up for the lost income they send their wives or daughters to be daily wage laborers.

Anju Dewraja, a 15-year-old from Tami-heruwa village in northeastern India, has been greatly affected by climate change. Her family used to live comfortably, but after a string of bad harvests over the past five years, her father pulled her out of school. Dewraja now works at home while her mother has a job as a daily wage laborer. Dewraja knows she will not be returning to her education because her family needs her more in the home. However, her brother still gets to continue his education.

Thousands of families are forced to remove their daughters from school, and the number of cases is growing rapidly. As climate extremes such as floods and droughts become more frequent, girls are being stripped of their opportunities to education and a better life.

“In hundreds of households women are now compelled to take up weaving, daily wage labor, and other related activities to make ends meet, and in many areas, women of the household are also taking up fishing to make up for the lost agriculture produce,” said Sabita Devi, co-convener and senior researcher of the Assam-based Center for Environment, Social, and Policy Research.

Women form a disproportionately large share of the poor in countries all over the world. They are more likely to live in rural areas and depend on natural resources for their livelihood. In several countries, women are not seen as equals to men and are therefore not afforded the same opportunities they are. Climate change is only making it harder for these girls to raise themselves out of poverty through education.

– Catherine Ulrich

Sources: Alertnet World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts UN WomenWatch
Photo: Flickr

The international community has recognized the significance of climate change and its possible implications. President Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy states that, “The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources…”

Recent studies have shown that climate change has lead to an increase in conflicts.  The U.N. Environment Program’s “From Conflict to Peace building” reported that approximately 40% of civil wars have been associated with natural resources. Resource availability has come under immense stress due to climate change. Natural resource-based conflicts have particularly affected Sub-Saharan Africa. And this will continue to be a problem as, in the future, the region will likely experience longer and more extreme droughts and floods, which could lead to food and water insecurity as well as increased migration and poverty. All of these factors could increase the risk of conflict in the region. To counter this increase in conflict, governments should develop new climate adaptation policies.

The UN Environment Program shows that resource-driven conflicts are twice as likely to relapse within five years of negotiations. To prevent this problem, environmental concerns and climate adaptation strategies should be included in conflict negotiations. Some non-governmental organizations, including Tearfund and the International Institute for Environment and Development, have gone directly to local communities to manage resource conflict. They believe that, by building local organizations to manage resources, the chances conflict will occur are reduced. Governments need to recognize that they will have to look to more climate adaptation policies if they wish to prevent future conflict in their countries.

– Catherine Ulrich

Source: Alertnet
Photo: Mathematics of Planet Earth