Rain continues to dry in Peru

Rain continues to dry in Peru

CCONCHACCOTA, Peru : From her home under the baking sun of Peru's southern Andes, Vilma Huaman can see the small Cconchaccota lagoon, the axis of her community's life. It has been a source of trout, fun for children eager to swim, beauty as flamingos flew from the mountains and water for thirsty sheep.

Huaman sees the lagoon 4,100 metres above sea level today as a plain of cracked and broken soil surrounded by yellow grass.

She said it had dried up completely.

The rainy season in this part of South America should have started in September, but the area is experiencing its driest period in almost a half century, affecting more than 3,000 communities in the central and southern Andes of Peru.

A light rain last week - only the second in almost eight months - prompted residents to set bowls outdoors to collect some water. The drops lifted dust as they hit the ground, and by the next morning the sun had evaporated the scant moisture.

Sheep and lambs so weak they can barely stand can be found among sparse yellow grass. The planting of potatoes, which is the only crop grown in Huaman's village, has been delayed, leading many to expect food shortages in the coming months because people are already feeding themselves from their dehydrated potato reserves.

Huaman 38, who moved with her four children from Peru's capital Lima to Cconchaccota in 2020 in an effort to escape the COVID-19 epidemic, said every day I ask - I hope the rain falls when there is rain the grasses grow.