Drought emergency declared in northern Italy

Giuseppe Ubertone a farmer shows his dry field due to drought at Azienda Agricola Ronchettone in Casalbuttano in Milan, Italy, 04 July 2022
A farmer shows how drought has dried out his field in Milan, Italy

Italy has declared a state of emergency in five northern regions surrounding the Po River amid the worst drought in 70 years.

Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto will be given €36.5m (£31m; $38m) in emergency funds to tackle the water shortage.

The drought threatens more than 30% of Italy’s agricultural produce, according to the agricultural union Coldiretti.

Several municipalities have already announced water rationing.

Unusually hot weather and low rainfall across winter and spring have compounded water shortages in northern Italy.

“The state of emergency is aimed at managing the current situation with extraordinary means and powers,” the Italian government said.

It said it could take further measures if the situation did not improve.

The dry bed of the Sangone River, Po River's left tributary. Photo: June 2022
Some tributaries of the Po River have dried out

The Po is Italy’s longest river, flowing eastward for more than 650km (404 miles). Farmers in the Po Valley say salty seawater is now seeping into the river, destroying crops.

Over the weekend, at least seven people died after being caught in an avalanche sparked by the collapse of a glacier in the northern Italian Alps. Prime Minister Mario Draghi said this was “without doubt” linked to global warming.

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