A desperate wait for water in a drying Amazon

In the remote city of Rio Branco in Acre state, some fear a climate tipping point has already been reached as the rainy season brings floods and the dry season, droughts, writes Terrence McCoy

Wednesday 23 November 2022 11:57 GMT
<p>Antonia Franco dos Santos and her grandson wash dishes in a nearby pond </p>

Antonia Franco dos Santos and her grandson wash dishes in a nearby pond

In her 60 years of life in the Amazon, Antonia Franco dos Santos has never had much money. Food was sometimes scarce. But never in the forest, with its heavy rains and endless rivers, had she known a life without water – not until she moved to this city along the southern crest, where her reserves are now down to the last gallon and the deliveryman is nowhere to be seen.

“He’ll come,” Franco says, looking into the distance. “He will.”

It hasn’t rained in more than a month, and probably won’t for another. The community pond that Franco and her neighbours used during the rainy season has dried to a muddy puddle. A water hole they’ve dug in desperation hasn’t conserved a drop. And inside her wooden shack this Monday morning is a stack of dishes, unwashed; a pile of clothes, unwashed; and an infant great-grandchild named Samuel. He needs washing, too.

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