El Niño Puts Colombia in a Disaster Situation


Fire, drought, and landslides generate risks in different areas of this South American country.

On Wednesday, Colombian President Gustavo Petro declared a "natural disaster situation" to mobilize resources and address the impacts caused by the El Niño phenomenon, which has triggered fires and drought in this South American country. "We have had over 500 fires, and there are 60 municipalities experiencing water stress. The alert for landslides on the Pacific coast remains," he said after a meeting with mayors and institutions in Tumaco.

Environment Minister Susana Muhamad reported that 27 fires remain active in Santander, Norte de Santander, Boyaca, Vichada, Antioquia, and Cesar.

The most complicated situation is in Santander, where the flames consumed hundreds of hectares over the weekend. The fires are spreading through the Berlin paramo in the municipality of Tona.

On Wednesday, the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEM) reported that the threat alert for fire risk is active in 952 municipalities, 586 of which are under a red alert. The threat of landslide risk is in effect in 33 towns, 7 of which have already moved to red alert.

During this week, the Colombian President moved the Executive Branch headquarters to Tumaco to analyze the situation and make decisions. "The outgoing and incoming mayors were warned of the seriousness of the El Niño," Petro said, explaining that the central government must assist the farmers. In previous administrations, the Colombian President lamented that his country had not developed a good climate change adaptation plan or risk management strategies.