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Asia Minute: Drought Hits Southeast Asia


Several islands across the state are facing drought conditions this summer – especially parts of Maui County and Hawai’i Island. More severe drought is plaguing parts of India, where several major cities are reporting water shortages. And now drought is on its way to Thailand.

Thailand’s government says the country is heading for its worst drought in at least a decade —and in some regions, much longer.

Rainfall has been far short of its monthly average across much of Thailand.

The Bangkok Post quotes the deputy director of the Meteorological Department as saying, “the country’s overall rainfall is the lowest in a decade.” The rainy season was drier than usual across the country, but was especially in the north, northeast, and the central plains.

Those are all key crop-growing regions, and farmers are concerned about water supplies.

Government officials say water levels in large reservoirs are down to about a third of capacity in the northeast – and around 22% in the central plains.

Other parts of Southeast Asia have been struggling with dry weather — including Indonesia, where the entire island of Java has been hit with severe drought — including the capital city of Jakarta.

In Vietnam, drought has hurt farmers and shrimpers, and has led to increased fires.

A recent UN report warned droughts in Southeast Asia are likely to become more frequent and more intense if countries don’t take steps now to build resilience. The report said the cumulative impact of drought disproportionately hits the poor.

Back in Thailand, government forecasters don’t expect heavy rains until late August or early September.

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