Emergency commission declares alert for rain-short Guanacaste

The national emergency commission is taking action to help the north and central Pacific coast where there is drought and where the lack of rain is expected to increase.

The agency, the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias, said it was declaring a yellow alert for the two areas in order to be more efficient in moving around materials and funds.

The agency expects to be providing food for animals, setting up storage of drinking water and preparing to distribute other necessities like salt for animals.

The agency said Tuesday that the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería estimated loss to the cattle industry at 7 billion colons or about $13.2 million. There has been a loss of about half that amount in other livestock, according to the agricultural ministry.

The cause of the drought, of course, is El Niño in the western Pacific. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional now says that rainfall in the northern Pacific will be reduced about 65 percent in the short term. The central Pacific faces a shortage of 30 percent, said the institute.

The situation is expected to get worse with El Niño consolidating toward the end of the year. The condition is expected to last through the first three months of 2015.

The agricultural ministry officials said the agency is prepared to provide forage for ranches that have burned out pastures and perhaps go so far as to drill wells in some cases.

Many ranchers in Guanacaste already have moved the cattle to more productive surroundings.

A concern for the emergency commission and the Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados is the availability of drinking water for humans. The supply is down.

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