Spain to invest $12.85 billion to alleviate drought impact

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MADRID, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Spain will spend more than 12 billion euros ($12.85 billion) to alleviate the impact of the long-running drought afflicting the country, Environment Minister Teresa Ribera announced this week.

Since September of last year, average rainfall in Spain has been 17% lower than the average recorded between 1991 and 2020, leading water levels in reservoirs to drop and crippling output in the agriculture sector, ministry data showed.

“We require structural responses and constant investment,” Ribera told a news conference.

The funds will be mainly destined towards reusing water, building desalination plants and improving water infrastructure, she added.

In a separate statement, the environment ministry said climate change was causing increasingly frequent and intense droughts, with Spain being more vulnerable than other European countries.

In addition to the funds allocated for drought relief, the government will spend 3 billion euros on boosting digitalisation to better manage water resources through the use of new technologies and big data.

As cereal harvests are expected to drop by up to 40% this autumn due to drought, Madrid estimates that Spain will need to import some 20 million tons of cereals to satisfy demand, both for consumption and for the manufacture of animal feed, requiring “a major logistical effort”, the ministry said.

A view of a dried-up part of the Muga riverbed as the river passes through Peralada, Girona, Spain. The Catalan Water Agency (ACA) had to declare a state of emergency in 22 municipalities of the Alt Emporda due to drought and lack of rain in Catalonia since the end of 2021. EPA-EFE/David Borrat

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