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BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's government said on Friday it would seek to redirect a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank for $300 million to contain the effects of a devastating drought on the Paraná River, a key waterway for trade and power generation and a source of drinking water.
The Parana, the country's main conduit for grains, is at its lowest level in 77 years, due to a severe drought upriver in Brazil. Ships sailing from top grains port Rosario are loading 18% to 25% less cargo than normal due to the shallow water, officials have said.
"The Secretariat for Strategic Affairs of the Presidency of the Nation is processing, before the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the reorientation towards addressing the water emergency of the current credit line for Floods and Earthquakes," the Argentine government said in a statement.
The statement said Argentina's president had also decreed a "State of Water Emergency" for a period of 180 days.
The historic "drought affects the supply and quality of drinking water, navigation and port operations, the ecosystem and the generation of hydroelectric power," the government added.
The state of the river is of the utmost importance to the South American grains powerhouse, the world's No. 3 corn supplier and No. 1 exporter of soymeal livestock feed. Farm exports are Argentina's main source of hard currency needed to bolster central bank reserves sapped by a three-year recession. REUTERS