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Asia Minute: Drought Bakes India, Vietnam, Thailand

Danumurthi Mahendra / Flickr
Danumurthi Mahendra / Flickr

More than half of Hawai‘i’s population is currently living under drought conditions. That’s according to the latest weekly reading from the U.S. Drought Monitor—put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But in parts of the Asia Pacific, conditions remain much worse. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Government officials in Vietnam are calling it the worst drought in 90 years.  The last time the water level of the Mekong River was this low was 1926.  Parts of Thailand haven’t been this dry in twenty years….and the Thai Department of Royal Rainmaking is seeding clouds to combat the problem.

India may be facing the worst drought crisis in the region.  Following two poor monsoon seasons, government leaders say more than a quarter of the country’s population is affected.  That’s more than 330-million people… greater than the population of the United States.  A scorching heatwave is making the situation even worse—the Weather Channel says high temperatures in New Delhi are expected to remain above a hundred degrees Fahrenheit for at least the next ten days.

India’s drought has even wound up before the country’s Supreme Court this week.  A nonprofit community group argues a dozen states are facing severe drought conditions but have failed to officially declare a drought—because that would obligate them to fund immediate relief efforts.  In addition to domestic agriculture, there is also a cost to trade—especially when it comes to rice.  India, Thailand and Vietnam are three of the top rice exporters in the world.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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