Drought looms in Thailand’s lower northeast


CHAIYAPHUM, March 13 – Many parts of Thailand’s lower northeastern provinces have started to face severe water shortages, with ten districts having so far been declared disaster zones.

Nakhon Ratchasima’s acting chief Montri Chanachaiwiboonwat said Thursday that many locations of the four lower northeastern provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Surin have suffered severe drought. So far 10 districts of Chaiyaphum and Buri Ram provinces have been declared disaster areas.

Drought has affected 252,000 people of 83,000 households. Nine out of 10 disaster-hit districts are in Chaiyaphum province. About 80,000 rai of farmlands have been severely damaged from critically low water supplies.

Mr Montri said local disaster office workers haved stepped up readiness to support drought victims at around the clock.

Caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, meanwhile, chaired a conference with authorities concerned in Khon Kaen province on Thursday to provide assistance for drought-affected victims.

The caretaker premier instructed relevant agencies to ensure sufficient supplies of water are available for all people and agriculture. She also encouraged those in drought-stricken areas to grow cassava and sugar cane instead of rice in order to cope with current drought problems. She said that the caretaker government has joined hands with agencies concerned to support farmers to grow plants that require less water.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency will help design a proper farm zoning to lessen drought impact on agriculture.