In Episode 159 we take a short breather from the political upheavals taking place in Colombia and get South African journalist Jacqui de Klerk on the line from her adopted home in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.
Wiith Jacqui, we talk about the environmental issues affecting Colombia's Caribbean and focus in particular on the Cienaga Grande. The Ciénaga Grande is one of Colombia’s most surreal places as the inhabitants of this large inland wetland live in a town built on stilts – Nueva Venecia. But ‘New Venice’ is not palatial, rather a menagerie of palafitic wooden huts where the only way locals can reach the most essential of services is by canoe
But all is not well in this coastal setting. Two of the biggest environmental catastrophes of the Ciénaga Grande are the massive mortality of the mangrove forest and the significant decline in fishery resources. The major factor responsible for these is the disruption of the natural movements of water between the Magdalena River, Ciénaga Grande, and the Caribbean.
The disruption began more than a century ago when farmers needing water to irrigate their crops, began to re-direct and block the natural flow of small tributaries, and the Magdalena entering the Ciénaga Grande – unintentionally modifying the rivers’ original shape and reducing the flow of fresh water into the lagoons.
Tune in to hear about this issue firsthand.