"And there shall be famines..." (Mat.24.7)
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Giant swarms of locusts, believed to have originated in northern Kazakhstan, have migrated to central Russia and central Siberia, destroying thousands of hectares of crops.
Russian television today says the locusts, which have not been seen in the Novosibirsk region in 40 years, have completely devoured crops and all vegetation in several areas over the past week, causing extensive damage to the farms.
According to a local news agency, one woman committed suicide because the locusts had
eaten her crops, her main source of income. Farm managers in the area have issued an
appeal to the federal
government to provide financing and send aircraft for an emergency fumigation operation to save endangered crops.
Agricultural officials fear an even larger infestation of locusts next year if steps aren't taken to eradicate the insects now. The plague of insects is now affecting the central Samara region, on the River Volga.
The locusts migrate great distances, covering as much as 50 km (31 miles) a day in search of food.
Kazakhstan, a natural breeding ground for locusts, has curtailed its formerly extensive fumigating program because of financial difficulties. Russian agriculture officials say the unusually arid weather this spring and summer has helped produce vast clouds of locusts that are now attacking Russian crops.
Russia is already receiving a million tons of grain as aid from the United States.
DHORESH, SyriaThe water disappeared here three months ago. The local well's flow slowed, then quit altogether. A government crew is punching an ever deeper hole, hunting for the water table, but until it succeeds, townspeople are borrowing and buying--mostly buying--what they can from the few lucky neighbors and farmers whose private wells are still flowing. The cost, $3 to $5 a week, is what they used to pay for a whole month of water from the town supply.
In a region where water is a staple of home talk and national politics, people say they are accustomed to scarcity. But this summer of dry river beds and empty wells has left them wondering whether their town can survive over the long term.
"When it ran out people didn't take it seriously," said Jamal Ali, head of a worker's council in this village about 20 miles southeast of Damascus. "But there is no water left. They have dug one, two, three times. No water. They are digging now. No water."
It is a refrain heard throughout the Middle East during a year of record drought. Winter rain, which the region depends on to recharge ground water supplies and to feed rivers and streams, was sparse this year, and now much of the region is parched.
As populations and economies grow, the problem becomes more acute. For example, according to analysts' estimates in Syria, the country's demand for water will surpass the typical supply within five years, meaning shortages could become increasingly common, and not be driven only by weather extremes.
In what may be the worst drought in Mexico's history, reservoirs and rivers are drying up, crops are wilting and cattle are dying by the thousands. Along the Texas border, some farmers have even resorted to watering their crops with raw sewage to keep them alive.
Meteorologists at the National Water Commission say it could be the worst drought in Mexico's history. It is the second consecutive dry year across northern Mexico--and for some states the fifth consecutive drought. Even the Rio Grande, which separates Mexico and the United States, is running almost dry along a long stretch of the border.
To make matters worse, a heat wave is sweeping northern Mexico, especially the Pacific coast states. Temperatures in some parts of Sonora and Sinaloa states hovered around 110 degrees (F) recently.
Last year's drought was followed by disastrous hurricanes--including Mitch--that brought heavy downpours. But farmers and ranchers say those only washed away valuable topsoil. What is needed, they say, is several weeks of light, steady rain to seep down into the parched earth.
Iraq is enduring its worst drought in nearly 100 years and will soon face a food "catastrophe" if new aid funds are not immediately found, UN and Iraqi officials said. According to figures released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Iraq has lost about 70 percent of its crops in the country's breadbasket. "The Tigris Basin has seen the lowest water flow rate ever recorded," the report said. "All indications point to a wheat and barley crop failure."
Two UN food agencies reported that more than one million people in Jordan may be threatened by food shortages as the country suffers the "worst drought in decades." The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Program (WFP) said the "unprecedented" drought--which has cut rainfall by up to 70 percent--has decimated cereal and other food crops and that sheep farmers are facing financial ruin.
Drought hits Damascus water supply. A spring which has provided drinking water for Damascus for more than four thousand years can no longer cope with demand after what local officials say is the worst drought to hit Syria for a quarter of a century.
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|Articles on this Page
Locusts Swarm Russia
A Middle Eastern Drought Threatens a Flood of Problems
Iraq facing worst drought in 100 years
Worst drought in decades wreaks havoc on Jordan
Worst drought in quarter century hits Syria
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