Five Italian regions are currently in a state of emergency: the combination of
high temperatures and lack of rainfall is causing these areas to suffer from
severe droughts. For this reason, the Italian government is distributing these
five regions – Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy and Piedmont –
$37.5 million euros as financial relief. What initially seemed like just an
anomalous lack of precipitations is now resulting in the most serious water
crisis the country witnessed in the last 70 years. The situation is particularly
critical for the Po basin. Running east across the northern part of the country,
the Po basin is the longest Italian river, with almost 17 million, i.e. one-third of
the total population, living in its valley.
According to the Head of Government Mario Draghi, the crisis is the result of
three years of rainfall deficit, as well as of a general rise in temperatures.
However, climate change is not the only one responsible for the emergency:
the same Draghi recognized that some “structural causes” are at play, meaning
poor maintenance works of basins and water networks. This negligence results
in an unusually high level of leakage: up to 30% or more, far above 5 to 8 per
cent of the other European countries.
Since more than half the national stock of cattle, pigs and animals live in the
area, the Po River crisis is seriously threatening the functioning of other
sectors, such as the ones of agriculture and livestock. The drought has also
devasted rice crops, wiping out 30% of the total harvest, Coldiretti warns. This
devastation comes at an already difficult time for the industry, which is
currently facing the consequences of the war in Ukraine.