Saturday, April 19, 2014

Drought Adds to Syria’s Misery

A Roman water cistern in Syria: Many reservoirs today are less than half full, despite heavy winter snowfall. (Credit: James Gordon from Los Angeles, California, USA via Wikimedia Commons} Click to enlarge.
The conflict in Syria has devastated much of the country’s agricultural sector.  But while the fighting has left large tracts of farmland abandoned, irrigation systems smashed and livestock neglected, other forces have also been at work.

Syria – and much of the Eastern Mediterranean region – is in the grip of one of the longest periods of drought on record.  The World Food Programme (WFP) says the recent rainfall season in Syria, which usually lasts from October to April, produced less than half the long term average precipitation.

When the harvest of wheat – the staple food – is brought in next month it’s likely to be 30% down on last year – and less than half its pre-conflict level.

“This is part of a wider pattern of drier than average conditions which has dominated across the eastern Mediterranean from southern Turkey to western Syria, Lebanon and Jordan”, says the WFP.

Drought Adds to Syria’s Misery

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