Drought conditions in Quintana Roo. Drought conditions in Quintana Roo.

Insufficient water puts 180,000 Maya at risk

Weather changes, misspent resources add up to a water problem in Quintana Roo

Climate change and insufficient investment in water distribution infrastructure have left the Maya people of three municipalities in Quintana Roo at risk for lack of water.

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The federal government’s Mexican Institute on Water Technology determined back in 2015 that over 180,000 people in the municipalities of José María Morelos, Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Lázaro Cárdenas already faced lack of access to water.

The study on the effects of climate change concluded that those people were “highly vulnerable” to any changes in weather patterns.

Now, the federation has detected the mismanagement of 200 million pesos allocated to the state water department, allegedly embezzled during the administrations of the last three governors, Joaquín Hendricks Díaz, Félix González Canto and Roberto Borge Angulo.

In the José María Morelos community of Kantemó, Fernando Uc Chan lamented that despite the fact his town sits on top of the largest underground river network in the country, water is out of reach for families like his.

Digging a well would cost Uc about 3,500 pesos US $190), far more than he can afford.

Ten years ago the situation was different, the father of three told the newspaper Milenio. Water shortages were unheard of and shallow wells produced water.

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What little water is now available is used for domestic consumption, leaving the region’s farmers with no option but to depend on seasonal rains, which have yet to come and put an end to a dry spell suffered in that part of the state.

” . . . the governments have abandoned us, we can’t grow anything and if the rains don’t come, we’ll lose our crops,” said Uc.

The drought has coincided with the onset of a disease that has affected the producers of papaya in the neighboring town of La Candelaria.

What little livestock breeding there is in the state is mostly found in the municipality of José María Morelos, where the 45 members of a cattle association own 900 animals.

Their representative said recent rain has not been enough for the grass to grow so the association has requested the help of authorities to avoid losing their livestock to dehydration.

The municipality of Tulum is not within the area described as vulnerable, but has been affected by the regional drought nonetheless.

The leader of a local honey producers group, Benito May Chulum, said lack of rain in December affected the flowering period, causing the loss of nearly half of the 12,000 beehives owned by 400 beekeepers.

Maya religious and social leaders regard the current drought with concern, as a similar phenomenon recorded some 700 years ago marked a massive exodus of their ancestors.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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