Extreme heatwave sees ‘crisis’ workforce activated in France as prolonged UK drought causes ‘alarming’ forecasts for UK farmers.
The French government has activated a crisis team to coordinate efforts to alleviate the effects of a “historic” drought exacerbated by an extreme summer heatwave.
Authorities have already ordered water restrictions in almost all of France’s 96 mainland departments, with 62 at the highest alert level. Meanwhile, the Meteo France weather agency has predicted little relief for the coming weeks as temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
“This drought is the worst ever recorded in our country … the situation may persist for the next two weeks or become even worse,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s office said in a statement on Friday.
The month of July 2022 was marked by a record rainfall deficit in France with fewer than four days of rain, which is about three to ten days less than average, according to Meteo France.
Drought has caused several southern European countries to introduce water restrictions.
A recent report from the European Commission said that almost half of the EU is at risk of warning levels of drought.
Burden on British farmers
Elsewhere, record high summer temperatures and prolonged dry weather in Britain are creating crisis problems for some farmers.
The UK government has so far stopped short of declaring an official drought, but the heat and lack of rainfall has put a strain on the agricultural sector.
Reporting from Suffolk, in eastern England, Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan said the irrigation required to maintain farmland has been unprecedented, with farmers running out of water for their crops.
– The head of Britain’s Environment Agency has warned that the gap between increasing demand and decreasing availability is closing – a situation he described as ‘the jaws of death’.
“July’s record heat wave has now subsided, but the long-term forecast is alarming.
“Official data estimates that by 2050 some of Britain’s most vulnerable rivers could have up to 80 per cent less water and summer temperatures could be more than seven degrees warmer than now,” he added.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, property owner Andrew Blenkiron said British farmers “are like the canary in the coal mine” when it comes to the effects of water shortages.
“And when they’re as worried as they are now, it’s a signal that the whole country needs to be worried,” he said.