The Chilean government will invest US$169m as part of a new strategy to deal with the effects of the country’s ongoing drought.
Announcing details of the plan on Tuesday, president Michelle Bachelet said the money would be invested in 2015 and go towards accessing underground water sources, building and upgrading canals and improving irrigation systems.
“Faced with this critical situation, there is no choice but to assume that the lack of water resources is a reality that is here to stay and that puts at risk the development of important regions of our country,” Bachelet said in a televised speech.
In addition to losses to agriculture, the drought, which began in 2007 has impacted on the country’s mining industry, intensified forest fires and cut supplies for human consumption. In all, 194 districts have been declared as Agricultural Emergency Zones.
In the medium term, small-scale the government said it would build desalination plants and dams to boost the supply of drinking water.
Bachelet called on every citizen to play their part in combating the drought, saying, “this effort cannot just be from the government. It requires a commitment from each and every one of us, citizens and the private sector. It is a task for the whole country and forms part of our commitment to the new generations.”