Deale, Maryland – The Paraguayan government declared a state of emergency after a severe drought left approximately 185,000 people without the basic necessities for life.
But not just the 2009 drought had a devastating effect on the country. The El Nino and La Nina phenomena propelled the arid conditions to a catastrophic length. The drought not only affected Paraguay’s rivers, the country’s chief water supply, it directly affected crops used for cattle food. Soy plantations were all but lost in some regions. According to the National Emergency Secretariat, over 60% of the population in affected areas lives beneath the poverty line. Today, these communities continue to struggle to grow enough food and find enough water to survive.
Unfortunately, Paraguay is no stranger to environmental difficulties. In 2007, the country declared a national emergency after wildfires, brought on by drought conditions and widespread land-clearing, devastated forests and large areas of agricultural land. Seeking a long-term solution to these and other environmental hardships, Paraguay has partnered with IEDRO, the nonprofit International Environmental Data Rescue Organization, to rescue historic weather records from 31 Paraguan observation sites.
IEDRO specializes in environmental data rescue and digitization. “These records date back to 1954. The inventory represents tens of thousands of crucial observations researchers can study to help prevent and prepare for these kinds of environmental catastrophes,” stated Executive Director, Dr. Richard Crouthamel. “This research also offers direct benefits sponsoring countries of data rescue, from crop planning applications to calculations for potential water collection.”
IEDRO staff members are ready to get underway. “We’re excited to begin the project,” Dr. Crouthamel stated. “Our first team is scheduled to visit Paraguay in April.”