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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Italy’s Sicily Declares Emergency Amid Severe Drought Crisis


Fri 01 Mar 2024 | 03:42 PM
Israa Farhan

Sicily, the southern region of Italy, is grappling with one of its worst droughts in two decades. 

After months of below-average rainfall attributed to climate change, the region has declared a state of emergency.

For the first time, several cities are experiencing water rationing during winter, as water levels in Palermo's lake have plummeted dramatically.

Dario Cartabellotta, the General Director of the Sicilian Agriculture Department, expressed concern to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, stating, "The rain is scarce and not falling regularly.

With rising temperatures, water evaporates, and reservoirs are depleting. Summers here are extremely hot, with temperatures reaching up to 45 degrees Celsius, leaving the dams with only 20% of their total water capacity."

The newspaper highlighted that climate change is not the sole cause of Sicily's water crisis. Neglected maintenance of dams and sediment accumulation also play a significant role in exacerbating the situation.

Massimo Gargano, the General Manager of the Italian Association of Irrigation and Water Management Unions, pointed out that water management unions in Sicily, responsible for irrigation purposes, have been under state control for over 30 years.

"For three decades, the region lacked an appropriate management structure, with no new projects or maintenance work undertaken," he said.

Local authorities have described the situation as dire, warning that hundreds of families could be left without water in the coming months unless a new rationing plan is implemented promptly.

"In 55 municipalities, 10% to 15% of the water supply is already being rationed. However, starting next Monday, water rationing will be extended to over 93 municipalities, affecting 850,000 residents. In some cases, the rationing may reach up to 45%," the authorities stated.