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  • St. Lucia and Puerto Rico are the worst hit in the Caribbean drought that is expected to continue for months.

    St. Lucia and Puerto Rico are the worst hit in the Caribbean drought that is expected to continue for months. | Photo: EFE

The Caribbean island of St. Lucia declared a state of emergency in the face of drinking water shortages and intense drought.

The Caribbean is suffering the worst drought seen in the region in five years, and weather forecasters expect the situation could intensify in the coming months and bring devastation for local farmers.

Meteorologists have predicted a strong El Niño effect will disrupt regular climate patterns this year, as the climatic phenomenon originating in the Pacific Ocean triggers floods, droughts, and other extreme conditions around the world.

RELATED: Costa Rican Agriculture Will Suffer Wrath of El Niño

In the Caribbean, El Niño is expected to produce a calmer hurricane season than usual, withholding much-needed rain for the region, parching farmers' crops, livestock, and water reservoirs across the region.

Among the hardest hit Caribbean islands are Puerto Rico, where drying water reservoirs are unlikely to be replenished given the dry forecast, and St. Lucia, where several agricultural crops are dying.

This week, the government of St. Lucia declared a national emergency over drinking water shortages, calling for water conservation and precautions to avoid contaminating precious water resources. 

RELATED: Caribbean Countries Grapple with Drought

According to the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Caribbean crop losses have already amounted to more than US$1 million as the agricultural sector faces a difficult growing season ahead.

The Caribbean last suffered a serious drought in 2010, but climate experts predict this year's drought could be harsher if needed seasonal rains don't quench thirsty water sources.

RELATED: NASA: World Is Running Out of Water

Caribbean governments have made an effort to invigorate the agricultural sector to increase local food security and food sovereignty, according to the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, but difficult weather conditions continue to pose a major challenge for farmers in the region. 

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, water scarcity will impact food security for the majority of the world's population by 2050. 

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