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What is El Niño doing to the Amazon? Brazilians struggle to make a living in dried-up village

Fisherman Raimundo da Silva do Carmo, 67, baths with water from a well on Puraquequara Lake, which has been hard-hit by drought, in Manaus, Brazil, 6 October 2023.
Fisherman Raimundo da Silva do Carmo, 67, baths with water from a well on Puraquequara Lake, which has been hard-hit by drought, in Manaus, Brazil, 6 October 2023. Copyright REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
Copyright REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
By Euronews Green with Reuters
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Cut off from Amazon River lifelines by record drought, these villagers are struggling to make a living.

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A once floating village has been left marooned on mudflats following severe drought in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

Motor boats lie tilting in the mud, no longer bringing in fish, fruit and vegetables or ferrying tourists to see the nearby confluence of the Rio Negro and Solimoes River, where they form the mighty Amazon River.

As Lake Puraquequara dried up, so too has business evaporated for the owners of boats and floating shops that are also stuck in the mud.

"Our shops have no customers. We are isolated, boats cannot enter or leave the lake," said local resident Isaac Rodrigues.

"We're going to be here until God sends us water."

Is El Niño driving the Amazon drought?

BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS
Boats and houseboats are seen stranded on Puraquequara Lake.BRUNO KELLY/REUTERS

Brazil's government said last week it is preparing to provide emergency assistance to inhabitants in the Amazon region hit by record drought that has drained the rivers that are their life support.

The Amazon drought, like flooding in the south of Brazil, is a result of the El Niño phenomenon, which warms the Pacific Ocean's surface water, experts say.

Some rivers winding through Brazil's vast Amazon rainforest have piled up masses of dead fish as the drought worsened, constricting local communities' access to food and drinking supplies.

The carcasses of some 120 rare river dolphins were found floating in a tributary of the Amazon River in circumstances that experts suspect were caused by severe drought and heat.

What is life like for villagers in the drought-struck Amazon?

REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
Ivalmir Silva digging searches for water on Puraquequara Lake, which has been affected by drought, in Manaus, Brazil.REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Things have gotten so bad at Lake Puraquequara that there is little water to drink or cook with.

Ivalmir Silva spent a whole day digging a waterhole in the drying mud flat.

Shopkeeper Otenisio de Lima, wearing a cowboy hat to shield himself from the hot sun, said fishermen cannot bring in their catch and produce like bananas and collard greens have stopped arriving.

"Everything has become so difficult. Sales have dropped and there are days when we barely make enough to live on," said another shop owner, Raimundo Silva do Carmo, as he bathed with a bucket of water taken from a makeshift well he dug.

"Let's see what God does for us," he said.

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