For months now the southeastern region of Brazil has been experiencing the most severe drought in living memory. The already crippling water crisis was made worse by a mercilessly scorching summer that saw record high temperatures in São Paulo, Brazil's most populous city.
The suffocating heat has complicated matters further still by prompting people to use more air conditioning. That, in turn, adds an extra strain on the area's sometimes rudimentary electrical power system, which is heavily hydro-dependent.
As the magazine Veja notes in this week's edition, "water and electricity in Brazil are conjoined twins, in happiness as well as in distress." The publication warns that the drought in the southeast will "torment millions of Brazilians this year."
There have been reports in recent days of temporary power blackouts across the São Paulo state. Reports of water shortages — which pose a serious health threat — are beginning to come in as well.
On Wednesday, the daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo revealed that poeple living in São Paulo and its surroundings have water only for about 14 hours per day. The government, in an effort to cut down on waste, also decided to decrease the pressure in the pipes. Even when people's taps are working, in other words, very little water comes out.
Local authorities worry that unless the area gets more rain they'll soon have to take even harsher measures. There has already been talk of drastic rationing that would leave São Paulo's 20 million residents with no water at all for five days a week.
ABOUT THE SOURCE: Vejais Brazil's leading weekly news magazine. It was founded in 1968 during the country's military dictatorship and was subject to censorship for several years.