Northern Thailand is drying up

A total of 26 provinces severely affected by drought have been declared emergency disaster zones

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    People in Northern Thailand waits for rain as lawmakers debate the risks of opening up the reservoirs. [AP]
    People in Northern Thailand waits for rain as lawmakers debate the risks of opening up the reservoirs. [AP]

    On 17 October of 2012, Thai authorities released a statement stating that the government was preparing to take proactive measure to deal with the anticipated drought in the coming months.

    At that time the government allocated an estimated $11 billion for water management, but in the months that followed, no credible project had materialized.

    As we enter the middle of the dry season, which runs from November through April, emergency disaster zones have been declared in 26 northern Thailand provinces that have been affected by severe drought.

    Farming production is the most reliant on access to water. During the rainy season, which is between the months of June and October, damned reservoirs stock up on this valuable resource.

    In 2012 rainfall amounts, especially in the north, were down approximately 18% from the average.

    It is expected that over 31,000 farmers are likely to be affected by this drought. Many farmers have stopped planting altogether because there is no precious water to germinate the seeds.

    The government has come under attack and has been blamed for lacking direction and being unable to deal with the ongoing problem. A quick solution from lawmakers has been to spend billions on subsidies, which for some farmers has proved to be ineffective in improving their wellbeing.

    One unpopular opinion by Thailand’s cabinet makers was “to let drought happen rather than flooding”. Flooding would be a risk to downstream areas when water is released from the reservoirs. Their argument was that damage caused by floods was likely to have a more severe impact on a wider group of people.

    The battle between lawmakers and farmers seems to have no immediate answer in the coming weeks. In the meantime, lack of much needed rain is expected to plague northern Thailand until the summer rainy season.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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