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3 Feb, 2016

Thai Government Outlines Efforts to Fight Drought

Bangkok, 31 January 2016, (PR Department, Office of the Prime Minister) – The Government has indicated that drought conditions in 2016 would not reach a critical stage. Various measures have been prepared on a continual basis to deal with the situation.

At a press conference, “Government and the People Joining Hands to Cope with Drought,” members of the public have been urged to use water more efficiently.

The press conference took place at Santi Maitri Building, Government House, on 29 January 2016. Joining this event were representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, and other relevant agencies.

Director-General of the Department of Water Resources Suphot Tovichakchaikul said that drought this year would be less severe than that in 2013. Results of an inspection of drought conditions across the country show that only three provinces appeared near the critical stage. They are the northeastern provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, and Surin. The situation in the past year was that certain areas simply faced shortages of water.

He said that the Government is implementing the water resource management strategy for 2015-2026. The strategy involves the management of water for consumption, the creation of water stability in agricultural and industrial sectors, flood management, the management of water quality, and the conservation of watershed areas and prevention of soil erosion.

Moreover, a plan has been mapped out for water use in each of 928 districts nationwide. The plan also seeks to collect information about the demand of water in each area, so that water resource management will be carried out with greater efficiency. This will also lead to the country’s stability, prosperity, and sustainability.

According to the Ministry of Interior, 14 provinces have been declared drought-stricken areas in need of emergency assistance. These provinces include 71 districts, 371 subdistricts, and 3,380 villages. Urgent assistance has been accelerated to ease the hardships of affected villagers.

Farmers have been urged to reduce off-season rice farming and turn to crops that require only a small amount of water. The off-season rice planting areas in the Chao Phraya River basin have now dropped to about three million rai, or 1.2 million acres. A total of 3,489 million cubic meters of water is now available in four major dams, namely Bhumibol, Sirikit, Pa Sak Jolasid, and Khwae Noi Bamrung Daen.

The Government has assured the people that it would do its best to ease water shortages. Farmers were encouraged to give their cooperation, as the Government needed to manage water for their benefit. At the same time, members of the public should use water sparingly, as well.