Drought Continues in Thailand

The newspapers this morning are saying that the drought in Thailand is the worst since the one in 1997-1998. It did rain one day last week, but that was such an unusual site that you could see people staring out of the window at the rain. We haven’t had “real” rain for such a long time that people were just mesmerized. However, it hasn’t rained since and it is just getting hotter and hotter.

A farmer takes cows to look for food and water in Ayuthaya province, about 80 km (49 miles) north of Bangkok. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Thai girl waits for her turn while queuing up for water at Ban Nong Ma village in Nakhon Ratshasima province, northeastern Thailand. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)


* Usable water stored in major dams across the country is about 2,000 million cubic metres (cu/m), or 6%, below last year’s level. The level has dropped to 39% of overall storage capacity against the usual standard level of 80%.

* Water in major rivers such as the Kok, Yom, Nan, Moon, Tapee, and Ko Lok has also fallen below their record low levels. For example, the level in the Moon river, measured at Buri Ram, is 44cm below the lowest level recorded in 2003.

* Rain-rich southern and eastern provinces, which normally enjoy abundant water year-round, have not been spared the drought. Cumulative rainfall in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Koh Samui and Trat, were 121mm, 101mm, and 77.4mm respectively lower than the mean level.

* The drought so far has destroyed more than 13 million rai of agricultural land. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has predicted up to 20 million rai of crop land will be devastated this year.

* The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) reported that 70 provinces have been hit by drought, leaving only six provinces: Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon, Yala and Pattani spared drought status.

* Water salinity in four major rivers: Chao Phraya, Tha Chin, Mae Klong and Bang Pakong, is at critical levels due to a severe shortage of fresh water upstream, allowing sea water to invade up from the lower part of the rivers.

* The NRE estimates drought-induced losses have exceeded 14 billion baht so far, including 7.4 billion baht in damage to the agricultural sector and seven billion baht in relief operation costs.

This makes you wonder what will happen to the water fights at Songkran this year. Maybe people will just resort to the more traditional sprinkling of rose-scented water on hands instead of the bucket of ice-cooled water in your face. But, people speculate about this every year and nothing seems to dampen the spirits of the Thai peoples’ love of fun.

Main Source: Bangkok Post

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