Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported on Friday drought disasters was declared in Chiang Rai and 19 other provinces across the country. Chiang Rai and 19 other Provinces legally obliged the government’s assistance between October 17 and February 6 over drought. Over 116 districts across the country were effected by drought.
The National Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Command Centre has instructed every province to use several means to prevent and respond to severe drought, including water survey and water-consumption management.
The disaster areas were in 20 provinces – Chiang Rai, Phayao; Nan; Uttaradit; Sukhothai; Phetchabun; Nong Khai; Bueng Kan; Nakhon Phanom; Sakon Nakhon; Kalasin; Maha Sarakham; Nakhon Ratchasima; Buri Ram; Nakhon Sawan; Uthai Thani; Chai Nat; Suphan Buri; Kanchanaburi and Chachoengsao.
Early drought for farmers along Mekong
Meanwhile, The Mekong River Commission has also announced it will join with China to uncover the reason behind lower Mekong water levels dropping record low levels.
A MRC report in mid 2019 showed water levels during last year’s early flood season, from June to July. The levels were also among the lowest on record. River levels in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province hit 2.1 meters against the average 3.02 meters measured over the past 57 years.
Starting April, farmers across the region saw their paddy fields left bone-dry for months. With freshwater reservoirs drying up, locals bought water for daily use, a situation unimaginable only a few years earlier.
Annual flooding occurs late July or early August and lasts until November. Delayed flooding disrupts crop cultivation as well as fishing across the delta.
Last year, flooding only occurred in mid-September, also causing drought conditions.
In December, MRC also stated the Mekong River had turned blue-green in some places. As opposed to its usual muddy color, also possibly due to its extremely low water level.
Consequently, MRC researcher say the record-low water level may be caused by low regional rainfall. Even more climate change which is turning the weather hotter and drier, causing weak flow. This weak flow also causes more drought conditions as farmers cannot draw waters from river inlets.