China releases dam water to ease SE Asia drought

Much of the region, including Thailand and Laos, struggling to cope with the severe weather conditions.

    China releases dam water to ease SE Asia drought
    Thailand is in the middle of its worst drought for more than 20 years [EPA]

    China has been releasing water from a number of its dams in an attempt to help relieve the drought in Southeast Asia.

    Much of the region has been struggling to cope with the severe weather which is hotter and drier than usual because of strong El Nino.

    Thailand is experiencing its worst drought in more than a decade with 14 out of 76 provinces badly affected.

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    The situation in Vietnam is not so good either with the country suffering its worst drought in 90 years.

    Rice crop has been decimated across central and southern parts of Vietnam and around 1.8 million people are facing water shortage.

    China has been partially responsible for the dire situation across the region.

    However, release of the water is having little or no discernible impact as it dissipates into the massive delta region that is home to almost 20 million people.

    At least 39 hydro-electric dams are currently under development in the region, most of them in southwest China.

    In addition, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have plans to build 11 new dams, potentially affecting 82 percent of the Mekong River's water.

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    Thailand has also turned to its Royal Rainmakers for help - they are the Thai Department of Royal Rainmaking and are responsible for seeding the clouds over the kingdom.

    As of now, there have not been enough clouds to make this an effective process.

    Environmentalists also observe that there is less fresh water for drinking and irrigation, thus endangering agriculture downstream.

    Nevertheless, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang insisted that the dams will remain open throughout this period of low water. Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar will all benefit, according to Kang.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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