SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The water crisis that has struck nations in South Asia, Africa, and South America has now expanded into New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state of Australia. There is no indication at the moment that the two years of drought, below average rainfall that has plagued the eastern part of the country is about to abate. NSW Water Minister announced that “the latest forecast is predicting below average rainfall and higher temperatures for June to August,” citing those three months as “key drivers of stronger water demand.”
Rainfall has declined by 70% over the past two years, contributing to a 50% reduction in the water levels in the state’s dams, leaving them nearly at half their capacity.
Two years ago, reservoir levels were at an average of 96% of capacity.
Farm animals and crops are dying due to the continued lack of water. The livelihoods of numerous farmers have been destroyed. Suicide rates among farming families are increasing as the situation continues to become bleaker.
Half of NSW is impacted by drought due to the current situation and as many as 12 years of declining rainfall in some regions. An entire quarter of the state is experiencing “intense drought” where there are major crop losses and widespread water shortages.
The drought has affected the nation’s overall wheat yield, driving it below its 20-year average production levels by a whopping 20%. The country has already arranged for the importation of high-protein wheat from Canada. It has been 12 years since Australia has had to import wheat, one of its own primary crops.
In the meantime, the city of Sydney will place strict water conservation restrictions into effect beginning June 1. The first round of restrictions includes a limit on using hoses without trigger nozzles. Use of residential irrigation systems will be prohibited. Hard surfaces, such as sidewalks and driveways may be cleaned with water only in emergencies that are health or safety related.
Stiff fines will be levied against both private citizens and businesses who ignore the bans and violate the restrictions as the city attempts to conserve potable water.
Andrew Letcher, the CEO of Presbyterian Inland Mission, one of the numerous faith-based organizations assisting farmers in parched, outlying areas, said,
“The drought now affecting much of Australia is named by some 60-year-olds as the worst in living memory.”
The Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology defines drought as “a prolonged, abnormally dry period when the amount of available water is insufficient to meet our normal use.”
Officials are monitoring the situation closely as individual lives, farms, income, and health depend on adequate rainfall and water availability and the state and national economies hang in the balance. That’s about all the government can do about the lack of rainfall.
The upside of the drought is that more and more farming families have come to recognize that their only source of help, whether it be relief aid or rain, is found in God. Officials are doing all they can. Australia’s Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources humbly noted that “Government can’t make it rain.”
Nonetheless, we know from James 5:18-19 that
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
“And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
So, although most Missions Box readers are tens of thousands of miles from Australia, we know the God who makes it rain. We are the same as Elijah. We serve the same God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We encourage you to pray that the Lord will bring rain to these people who desperately need it. The government may not be able to make it rain, but our God can!
To read more news on Australia on Missions Box, go here.
- Sight Magazine, The Big Dry: How Australian Christians Are Reaching Out in a “Ministry of Tears”
- Sight Magazine, As drought persists, Australia restricts water use in populous state
- The Guardian, Sydney facing first water restrictions in a decade as drought grips New South Wales
- Reuters, As drought persists, Australia restricts water use in populous state
- The Guardian, Australia to import wheat for first time in 12 years as drought eats into grain production
- Australia Bureau of Meteorology, Drought