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No spurts from Vatican fountains

VATICAN (SE): The famous fountains sprinkled around the Vatican Gardens are running dry this summer. Pope Francis has ordered them to be turned off, as Italy swelters through one of its driest summers for many years.
 
Vatican Radio reports that what is being described as the country’s third longest drought in 60 years has cost Italian agriculture some US$2.3 billion ($17.85 billion).
 

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Farmers demand aid on Earth Day

MANILA (UCAN): Philippine environmental advocates and farmers marked Earth Day, April 22, with rallies in various cities around the country to demand government action in drought-stricken areas.

“The drought has worsened the poverty and hunger of farmers,” said Pedro Arnardo, a peasant leader from the southern region of Mindanao.

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When the heavens stay dry people die

ARAKAN (UCAN): Swathes of corn stalks bend their sad and withered heads towards the parched earth on the rolling hills surrounding the farming town of Arakan in the southern Philippines, while shallow cracks mock the hapless farmers who planted the seeds with high hopes of a good crop.

The dry skies brought about by the El Niño effect are wreaking havoc on the rich soil of Cotabato province.

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It is time to pray for rain

MANILA (UCAN): “There will be rain,” the bishops of The Philippines said in assuring farmers who have been suffering from an ongoing dry spell that has affected thousands of farmlands across the country.

“Have faith in the power of prayer,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the bishops’ conference, encouraged.

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The high price of relief rice

KIDAPAWAN (UCAN): There may be a drought in Mindanao, but that hardly justifies the high price that a group of farmers had to pay for their relief rice—three lives, 116 injuries and around 89 disappearances.

On April 1, as around 6,000 farmers blocked the main highway between Cotabato and Davao in Kidapawan City demanding that the local government release aid allocated by the national government in Manila, the police opened fire and began rounding up the farmers and locking them up.

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