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Paraguay to build aqueducts to stem drought

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by Staff Writers
Asuncion (AFP) Nov 20, 2009
Paraguay will build up to four new aqueducts in a bid to save agriculture and livestock in an arid central region devastated by a prolonged drought, Vice President Federico Franco said Friday.

"We need to get behind the construction of three or four aqueducts in Chaco to allow for better farming and to end the massive, indiscriminate death of livestock, which is about to kill production in the region," Franco told AFP.

The aqueducts would carry water from the Paraguay River to the desert region of Chaco. Some 5,000 cattle have died from a drought that has lasted for 10 months, due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

The first water system, set to be some 250 kilometers (155 miles) long, will cost about 30 million dollars, officials said.

The occasional seasonal warming of central and eastern Pacific waters -- the movement known as El Nino -- upsets normal weather patterns across the globe and occurs on average every two to five years. Drought damage this time around has been seen throughout Latin America.

In Argentina, fires lasting several weeks burned through some 70,000 hectares of land during its worst drought in 50 years, according to officials in the central and northern Cordoba and Catamarca regions.

And further north, Ecuador saw its most devastating drought in 40 years, with the government declaring a 60-day state of emergency in the hydro-electric sector after water levels sunk in power station reservoirs.

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