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Brazil’s Amazon rainforest faces severe drought, affecting food and water supplies for thousands

The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is facing a severe drought that may affect around 500,000 people by the end of the year, authorities said Tuesday.

Many are already struggling to access essential supplies such as food and water, because the principal means of transportation in the region is waterways, and river levels are historically low. Droughts also impact fishing, a means of subsistence for many riverside communities.

Amazonas state declared an environmental emergency two weeks ago in response to the prolonged drought and launched a response plan valued at $20 million. Authorities will also distribute food and water supplies as well as personal hygiene kits, the state’s civil defense agency said in a statement.

The drought is forecast to last longer and be more intense because of El Niño climate phenomenon, which inhibits the formation of rain clouds, the civil defense authority said.

Climate change exacerbates droughts by making them more frequent, longer and more severe. Warmer temperatures enhance evaporation, which reduces surface water and dries out soils and vegetation.

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