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Caritas aids Indonesian drought victims

JAKARTA (UCAN): Tanks of clean water are being rushed to drought-plagued areas of Central Java, Indonesia, by Caritas.
 
“We have formed a network of 47 volunteers and distributed 49 tanks of clean water to six villages in Yogyakarta province’s Gunung Kidul district in coordination with the local government,” Sister Huberta, Caritas’ programme manager for disaster risk reduction in the Archdiocese of Semarang from Caritas said.
 

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Drought hit farmers forced to sell their animals

SOUTH COTABATO (UCAN): Farmers in the southern Philippine region of Soccsksargen, Mindanao, have resorted to selling their farm animals to survive the impact of a drought that has reportedly ravaged about 15,000 hectares (150 square kilometres) of farmland.
 
Father Ariel Destora, director of the social action centre of the Diocese of Marbel, said the scorching heat brought about by the El Niño phenomenon that has hit the region this year had dried up grasslands.
 

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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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