Deforestation, especially in the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru, was the main driver of this year’s disastrous flooding in the Madeira river watershed in Bolivia’s Amazon rainforest and the drainage basin across the border, in Brazil.
Unusually heavy rainfall, climate change, deforestation and two dams across the border in Brazil were cited by sources who spoke to IPS as the causes of the heaviest flooding in Bolivia’s Amazon region since records have been kept.
The Itaparica hydroelectric power plant occupied land belonging to the Pankararu indigenous people, but while others were compensated, they were not. They have lost land and access to the São Francisco river, charge native leaders in Paulo Afonso, a city in northeastern Brazil.
Valdenor de Melo has been waiting for 27 years for the land and cash compensation he is due because his old farm was left underwater when the Itaparica hydroelectric dam was built on the São Francisco river in Brazil’s semiarid Northeast.
As they build huge hydropower dams, the Brazilian government and companies have run into resistance from environmentalists, indigenous groups and social movements. But the binational Itaipú plant is an exception, where cooperation is the name of the game.
It took them three days to make the 2,000-km journey by bus from their Amazon jungle villages.
South America has gone from the world’s granary to the site of innumerable international infrastructure, energy and mining megaprojects. It is now facing a new dilemma: bolstering the economy with the promise of reducing inequality, in exchange for social and environmental costs that are taking their toll.
Energy integration efforts in Latin America have been made in fits and starts, even though many clearly understand that the only way to solve the region’s energy shortages and high costs is by working together.
In the war over major hydropower dams in the Amazon jungle, everyone loses - even the winners who manage to overcome the opposition and build them, but who suffer delays, costs that are difficult to recoup, and damage to their image.
Tsetseghkorol, a Mongolian herder, stares out nostalgically at the Orkhon River, the longest in the country.
Diversifying the energy mix and the spectre of energy shortages in Chile are central issues in the campaign for the primary elections this Sunday Jun. 30, when presidential candidates will be nominated for the Nov. 17 elections.
On the outskirts of Rudraprayag, a town in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand whose many temples draw tourists and Hindu pilgrims with magnetic force, visitors often stop for a meal at a popular hotel built right on the river Alakananda.
The future of food security in the Mekong region lies at a crossroads, as several development ventures, including the Xayaburi Hydropower Project, threaten to alter fish migration routes, disrupt the flow of sediments and nutrients downstream, and endanger millions whose livelihoods depend on the Mekong River basin's resources.
The powerful tractors and other farm machinery that landowners recently used to block roads at a dozen points from north to south in Brazil illustrated the economic clout of big agriculture, which rose up against the demarcation of indigenous reserves.
A group of environmentalists, gender activists and international finance watchdogs are calling on the U.S. government to support calls for the World Bank to step back from a new programmatic focus on large-scale infrastructure, which critics say does little to help alleviate poverty.
Approaching the Lake Chad basin from Gulfe, a small locality 45 kilometres from Cameroon’s Far North Regional capital Maroua, the atmosphere of despair is palpable: dusty air, fierce and unrelenting winds, wilting plants and sand dunes suggest that this once lush area is undergoing a terrible change.
“This is paradise and they want to destroy it. This has had an enormous psychological impact on us,” says Guido Melinao, leader of the Mapuche indigenous community of Valeriano Cayicul, referring to the Neltume hydroelectric power plant project planned by the Spanish-Italian consortium Endesa-Enel.
José Geraldo Matos fondly recalls the massive traíras (Hoplias sp), carnivorous freshwater fish found in the lagoons and rivers of Brazil, that he used to catch in the Dos Cochos River just a few metres from his house.
Aluminium, opposed by environmentalists mainly because of the amount of energy needed to produce it, is one of the targets of the heated campaign against hydroelectric dams in Brazil’s Amazon jungle region.
"What do we stand to lose because of the dam? We will lose everything!" said Maria Abigail Agredani, a member of the committee for this indigenous community in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, reporting the damage that will be caused by the hydroelectric complex being built nearby.
A recent Brazilian court decision to suspend construction of small hydroelectric dams along the Paraguay River has highlighted the doubts raised about a growing alternative source of energy that until recently was considered one of the most environmentally-friendly sources.