It thundered so much that … it didn’t rain. On the occasion of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (tomorrow, June 17), there is little to be calm. Because we are far beyond the simple alarm. A global scourge that does not spare even Italy with over 20% of the national territory at risk of desertification since 2018.

World day against desertification, the drought emergency is the scourge of the millennium: in Italy rivers and basins at historic lows

A situation further aggravated, in recent months, by the almost absence of rainfall not only in the southern areas of the country. The deficit of rain and snow (respectively -60% and -80% compared to the seasonal average) has in fact put the main rural areas of northern Italy in crisis, with large reservoirs of water at minimum levels and well below their capacity. .

Desertification alarm also in Italy

Italians seem to have understood the situation: according to recent research Ipsos for Finishin fact, the current situation and the specter of desertification worry 62% of the interviewees, with a percentage that increases to 83% if the time horizon is extended and we look to the future.

Concern that, in the present, remains high for southern Italy and the islands (69%) but which, precisely in the future, sees the north-west gain first place (63%), due to the strong water stress to which they are Piedmont and Lombardy followed by the south and the islands (62%), the center (59%) and the north-east (57%).

A picture that has a direct and inevitable impact on agriculture, a sector which, due to drought and atmospheric phenomena, is considered to be at high risk by 56% of the interviewees and which, therefore, is forced to find new areas to resist the “crisis”. cultivate or research and accelerate on new investments.

In this regard, from research Ipsos for Finish particular concern emerges with regard to water resources in the future: 25% declared a certain concern for prolonged drought phenomena (+ 13% compared to fears about the present), 24% for the melting of glaciers and 19% due to the presence of intense atmospheric phenomena that are increasingly shorter and limited to certain periods of the year.

The plans for the World Day

In such a complicated context, even targeted interventions can make a difference. Like the “Water in our hands” project, the initiative of Finishwith the support of the Future Food Institute, which challenges drought and puts water and its protection at the center of all activities, representing its commitment through concrete interventions on the territory.

After the activities in Cilento in 2020 and in Sicily in 2021, the initiative will stop this year in Puglia – one of the regions at greatest risk of desertification (57% of the territory) – to support the planting and cultivation of the olive tree. fundamental for maintaining the correct environmental balance and natural barrier against desertification.

The project, currently underway, will see the direct planting of over 500 trees resistant to the Xylella bacterium and water monitoring of the crops on a total of 500 hectares distributed in the province of Brindisi, which will guarantee annual savings (considering the 20 weeks of summer season) of over 150 million liters of water.

The activity will be carried out in collaboration with the Community Agricultural Cooperative “Borgo Ajeni di San Michele Salentino.

Anbi alarm: rivers and basins at historic lows

Among the most dramatic situations, that of the Po basin, a “field” of the “made in Italy” agri-food, but where, in the persistent absence of rain, it is now on the eve of drastic choices to guarantee a flow of the Po river, sufficient for withdrawals for drinking purposes and to counteract the rise of the saline wedge, which is altering the environmental balance in the delta, drying up the territories: from the source to the mouth, not only the flows in the riverbed are well below what has been recorded in recent years, but in Pontelagoscuro, with 301.6 cubic meters per second, it fell well below the previous historical minimum, set at cubic meters / sec. 320.

“In the face of this emergency, we ask for the immediate activation of a control room, which includes the main technical and political bodies, to evaluate, in compliance with the priorities of the law, all the possible solutions and consequent actions regarding releases and withdrawals water supply in the riverbed, governing the inevitable problems that will follow “, declares Francesco Vincenzipresident of the National Association of Consortia for the Management and Protection of the Territory and Irrigation Waters (Anbi).

Around the table, coordinated by the Civil Protection, should sit, in addition to Anbi, the 4 Regions concerned (Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Veneto), the regional basin authorities of the Po river and the Eastern Alps, the representatives of the electricity operators and of the main “stakeholders”.

“Any choices to be made – specifies Massimo GarganoGeneral Manager of Anbi they cannot, in fact, fall on a single stakeholder, but must be the result of choices made responsibly in a collegial manner, in the absolute certainty that everyone does their part and that what has been decided reaches the set objectives. It is unacceptable, in fact, to penalize the economy of an area with water without the reasonable certainty of effective refreshment useful for increasing the levels in the riverbed “.

The next few weeks will be the most critical for the crops in the field and a water stress would jeopardize the yield or could even cause, in some territories, the partial or total loss of production; for this, Anbi recalls the need not to limit the assessments to simple hydro-meteorological considerations, but to also analyze the overall water condition of the territories and above all the phenological state of the crops, also considering the strategic objective of increasing the food self-sufficiency of the Village.

“We hope – he concludes Vincenzi – that the gravity of the situation and the evidence of the emergency in progress urgently leads to the necessary infrastructuring of the territory, to start with new basins to retain rainwater and counteract the consequences of climate change, increasing the resilience of communities “.

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