Still recovering from last year’s record flooding, Thailand is now facing a new natural disaster: drought. Several provinces in northern Thailand face a shortage of water for household use and farming as rainfall has declined or even stopped altogether for months in some areas.
The northern province of Chiang Rai is experiencing full-scale drought. The main rivers have run dry and more than 70,000 rais (28,000 acres) of farmland lacks water due to the absence of rainfall for the past three months.
As a result, the amount of water in waterways has rapidly dropped including in the Lao River, a key tributary of the Kok River, which dried up a month ago. Local residents have no water for growing crops and sand dunes have appeared in some areas as winds sweep the dry soil from place to place.
Chiang Rai Governor Thanin Suphasaen declared six districts disaster zones after the provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office reported that drought has so far affected 14,959 households.
In 2010, Thailand already faced serious drought in 53 provinces. The Interior Ministry’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said in June 2010 that a total 1,755,100 households, or 6,482,602 people, have been affected by the extreme dry season.
The drought has also caused damage to 58,300 acres of farmland in the 53 provinces, officials said. The officials said rescue workers with the department have distributed 20.6 million gallons of water in the area and performed installations, repairs and upkeep on 3,645 weirs, 3,985 reservoirs and 689 water pumps.
According to experts, drought in 2010 in Thailand was severer when compared with the previous years. Water shortages resulting from global warming is expected to seriously affect citizens, especially farmers nationwide, whose survival depends on their harvest and water supply.