The executive branch declared a national emergency due to the prolonged drought in northwestern Costa Rica Tuesday.
The declaration affects 11 cantons in Guanacaste: Liberia, Tilarán, Nicoya, Santa Cruz, Bagaces, Carrillo, Cañas, Abangares, Nandayure, La Cruz and Hojancha. Also involved are five cantons in Puntarenas province: Aguirre, Garabito, Montes de Oro, Esparza and the central canton. Three Alajuela cantons also were included: Orotina, San Mateo and Atenas The declaration is an extension of an alert that has been in force since the middle of the year.
The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional reported Monday that there was more rain in September and additional moisture is expected in October, but the national emergency commission said that the effects of El Niño are likely to cause problems during the first part of next year as the dry season progresses.
There have been substantial loses in production, according to the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería. There also has been loss of jobs. Ranchers have been hard hit with the loss of pasture land.
Government institutions are taking steps. For example, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad is working to bring Lake Arenal to a high level in anticipation of electrical generating needs during the first months of the new year. The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados will be drilling new wells, setting up storage tanks and planning for rationing when water becomes short.
The Ministerio de Salud is reported to be trying to identify the spread of any diseases as well as conducting education in handling water. The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación is getting ready to try to reduce the impact in protected areas where forest fires may be expected.