THE SPANISH government on Thursday announced a €2.19 billion plan aimed at combating the effects of the ongoing drought in Spain. 

The Cabinet approved a decree that includes a package of urgent measures to support the agriculture sector, which has been suffering not just from the lack of water this year but also rising costs for materials such as fertilisers caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The drought has already caused irreversible losses to more than five million hectares of land used to grow cereals, according to newspaper El Pais. 

The assistance includes direct aid for farmers of more than €636 million, according to news agency Europa Press, as well as subsidies covering up to 70% of the cost of insurance policies covering drought. 

“We will be taking immediate action in the basins affected by the drought […], which will allow us to guarantee the supply of water for this summer,” said Teresa Ribera, one of Spain’s deputy prime ministers and minister for the environmental transition, at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting. 

Since October 1, 2022 until this week, rainfall in Spain has been 27.5% lower than average according to Europa Press, and forecasts suggest that Spain will not see significant rainfall until September.  

So far, 2023 is the fifth-worst year on record in terms of the amount of water stored in the country’s reservoirs. 

The plan is the latest in a series of policy announcements being made by the central government, ahead of the local and regional elections on May 28 and the general election due to be held toward the end of the year. 

The administration, which is run by a coalition of the Socialist Party and leftist Unidas Podemos, was harshly criticised on Thursday by the main opposition Popular Party (PP) for its plan. 

PP leader Alberto Nuñez Feijoo accused Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of approving drought measures in an electoral year after five years of ‘apathy’ and without proper planning when it comes to water. 

“The countryside doesn’t want to be showered with aid but rather water its land to produce and sell its products,” he said at a party event in Valencia.

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