Italy has declared a state of emergency in five northern regions battling the worst drought in 70 years, the government announced on Monday night, as the country is gripped by a relentless heat wave that started at the end of June. On that very same day, a tragic avalanche in the Dolomites that killed at least 6 people hit the news – a probable consequence of climate change, as the glacier had been affected by exceptionally high temperatures (around 10° centigrade) for several days and collapsed.
Emergency funds of €36.5 million are to be divided between the regions of Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Piemonte and Veneto.
The funds will be used to tackle the water shortage in the five regions surrounding the Po, Italy’s longest river.
The emergency funds will be divided as follows: €10.9 million to Emilia Romagna; €4.2 million to Friuli Venezia Giulia; €9 million to Lombardia; €7.6 million to Piemonte; €4.8 million to Veneto, the government said in a statement.
Italy’s minister for regional affairs Mariastella Gelmini said the water crisis requires “national intervention” and “immediate solutions”, priorities include guaranteeing drinking water to all citizens, as well as assisting companies and the hard-hit agricultural industry.
The drought, as mentioned above, has been compounded by a heat wave with unexpected, higher-than-usual temperatures that have taken Italy by surprise. The country has also been deprived of significant rainfall for months. Another factor contributing to the water crisis is the lack of snow in the Alps – all factors attributable to climate change.