More than six months' continual drought has severely affected the Spanish economy. Wide areas of?
More than six months' continual drought has severely affected the Spanish economy. Wide areas of 20 Spanish provinces have been declared disaster areas, with crops and cattle dying, and the growing winter sports industry has suffered a severe set-back because of lack of snow.
Worst-hit areas include the southern provinces of Andalucia, the central plain of Castille and the western region of Extramadura, which borders with Portugal. But throughout the country agriculture is suffering from the lack of rainfall. Loss of hydro-electric power has to be made up by oil-generating stations ... causing a 23 per cent increase in electricity prices.
In the central Guadarrama mountains, near the capital, Madrid, ski resorts like Navacerrada have few if any tourists this year. The only snow reported in Spain is in the Pyrenees range near the French border. The drop in tourist earnings in the southern Sierra Nevada range alone is estimated to exceed 800,000 pounds sterling (1.9 million US dollars).
As prayers for rain are said in churches throughout Spain, the Government has taken steps to make available to farmers 900 million pesetas (6.8 million pounds sterling) worth of credits to buy cereals to feed starving cattle. In some areas, though, farmers have already begun to slaughter the animals.
Livestock losses so far are estimated at 84 million pounds sterling (200 million US dollars), and autumn-sown cereal crops are expected to have a failure rate of at least 50 per cent.
At the same time, water levels in reservoirs and cachament area dams are considerably below average for the time of year, and water rationing has begun in some provincial capitals. In Madrid itself, the dry, still air is already causing dangerous atmospheric pollution, and the latest meteorological predictions forecast below average rainfall continuing through the month.