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Drought leaves patches of 'desert' behind Venezuela's Guri dam

Drought has left areas behind Venezuela's Guri dam, one of the world's biggest, into a desert, but the government is optimistic of rain within weeks to drive the vast installation that provides the bulk of the nation's power.

Government hopes for rain later this month

The receding waters behind Venezuela's Guri dam, one of the world's largest, have left unprecedented scenes of drought. Venezuela's Electricity Minister Luis Motta told Reuters the forecast shows a 70 to 80 per cent chance of rain at the end of the month or in May. 

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)
(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

The critical depth is 240 metres.

The reservoir in southern Bolivar state, which provides about 60 per cent of the nation's 16,000 megawatt power demand, hit a historic low of 243 metres this week.

(Carlow Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)
(Carlow Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

'It's like the Sahara.'

Many Venezuelans say power and water cuts are already affecting them daily, adding to suffering from a recession. Water rationing hasn't been mandated yet, but Motta fears it isn't far off. 

Often mocked by opposition supporters on social media, Motta dismissed criticism that insufficient investment, preparation and diversification of power sources were to blame. This island, behind the dam, used to be underwater.

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

'We're slowing the descent in hope rain comes.'

Among the crisis measures Motta has ordered are canals being dredged to join what pools of water remain. 

(Carlow Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

'They say El Nino doesn't exist.'

"They've tried to ridicule the situation, saying it's a lie, not enough has been invested. But here it is: let him who has eyes see.… There are parts here that look like the Sahara Desert," Motta said.

(Carlow Garcia Rawlins/Reuters) (REUTERS)

Venezuelans must play their part by cutting consumption.

About two-thirds of the country's power is consumed in homes, Motta said in his interview with Reuters' Andrew Cawthorne and Carlos Garcia Rawlins, who shot these images.

"If it doesn't rain, and if we don't make an effort, many of my brothers and sisters are going to suffer a lot — my family, all of us."

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

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