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Southeast Asia: Drought - Feb 2019

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Disaster types

In the Philippines, Recent PAGASA's climate monitoring and analyses indicate that the unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (CEEP) which started since November 2018 is expected to become a full-blown El Nino. During the past three months, rainfall analyses showed that impacts of below normal rainfall conditions in provinces of Western Mindanao and Ilocos Norte were already experienced and are expected to continue. Five municipalities in Cotabato Province (Region XII) were affected by dry spell November 2018 to 22 January 2019. (Govt. of Philippines, 5 Mar 2019)

Drought conditions are being reported in the MIMAROPA Region, Region IX, and Region XII, BARMM and Metro Manila, where ten provinces have declared a State of Calamity according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). While PAGASA declared a weak El Niño lasting until June, agricultural regions are suffering from its worsening effects, with the Department of Agriculture (DA) reporting damage to over 13,600 ha of agricultural crops, mostly rice (81 per cent) and corn (19 per cent). Agricultural losses are estimated at PhP1.33 billion (US$25.6 million) but could run higher as the DA verifies reports from regional offices. Over 16,000 farmers and fisherfolk are affected, and some local media are reporting that the drought conditions are also starting to affect livestock, with some farm animals dying due to the lack of grass or hay for foraging.

Mindanao is the most affected region, a major food producer where poverty levels are the highest in the country and farmers and fisherfolk are already vulnerable due to repeated armed conflict and natural hazards such as heavy rain and flooding. Since January, the NDRRMC reports that the central and western Mindanao provinces are experiencing below normal rainfall conditions which is predicted to continue. Close to 72,000 families (360,000 people) are affected in the five municipalities in North Cotabato alone, sixty per cent of which are located in Pikit. With the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, local authorities of North Cotabato have declared a State of Calamity. (OCHA, 29 Mar 2019)

Weak El Niño (dry spell) condition continues to affect and incur agricultural losses to farmers.Thirty-nine local government units have declared a state of calamity due to a dry spell. 164,000 farmers have been affected. (OCHA, 25 Apr 2019)

El Niño conditions persist in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Warmer than average sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific of at least 0.5°C was observed, since the last quarter of 2018. Recent analyses from global climate models suggest that the on-going El Niño condition will likely to continue until the June-July-August 2019 season. As of 24 May 2019, more than one million people were affected in 9 regions. (Govt. of Philippines, 24 May 2019)

The dominance of the Southwest Monsoon in the region is expected to alleviate the impacts of El Niño in the Philippines. However, seasonal model outlooks generally tend to favour below-normal rainfall for the country. This means that while rainy season is coming to the Philippines, the amount of expected rainfall will still perform below usual. (AHA Centre, 09 Jun 2019)

As of 27 June 2019, a total of 1,810,382 persons have been affected by the drought/dry spell in Regions I, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, and CA. It has also affected 247,610 farmers and caused an estimated 7,962,521,863.48 pesos worth of agricultural damages. A total of 51 local government units (LGUs) have declared a state of calamity due to the dry spell. (Govt. of Philippines, 27 Jun 2019)

According to Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Organisation (BNPB), at least three provinces in Indonesia, Central Java, East Java, and Special Region of Yogyakarta were exposed to drought. As many as 100,230 people were affected. The local government together with local DMO (BPBD) have sent support by distributing around a million litres of water across the affected areas. Since the Southwest Monsoon will continue, similar condition may likely occur throughout the southern region. In addition, BNPB’s Analysis Centre for Disaster Aware Situation (Pastigana), have identified several areas which may experience no-rain condition for more than sixty days such as East Java, Bali, and East Nusa Tenggara Provinces. (AHA Centre, 25 Jun 2019)

As of 4 July, drought hit 12 villages in six districts in Purbalingga District, Central Java. A total of 733 families or 2,809 people were affected by the drought since the beginning of June. The Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) of Purbalingga Regency has carried out data collection and distribution of 49 clean water tanks or 245,000 liters for nine days. (AHA Centre, 7 Jul 2019)

The Meteorological Department of Thailand reported that the country is going to experience the worst drought in a decade, as average precipitation across large swaths of the country has fallen far short of the monthly average, particularly in the North and Northeastern as well as in the Central Plains - all of which are important crop growing regions. The water level of the Mekong river in the northeastern border province is only about 1.5 metres high, possibly the lowest level in almost 100 years. In Laos, the Mekong’s water level is now slightly less than a meter, about seven metres lower than its typical height at this time of year. In Vietnam, the Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, announced that drought condition in the north central region will continue until early August. Nearly 14,900 ha of crops are affected, accounting for nearly 3.2 percent of the total. In the south central region, about 54,400 ha will be impacted, making up 15 percent of the total. Nearly 138,800 regional households will lack water for daily use. (ECHO, 23 Jul 2019)

As of 25 July, the National Agency for Disaster Management announced that 55 districts and cities in Indonesia have declared a drought emergency readiness status. This status is set to allow an accelerated response, i.e. water provision. These 55 districts are among 75 districts and cities identified as affected by drought, distributed as follows: West Java (21), Central Java (21), NTT (15), East Java (10), NTB (9), Yogyakarta (2), Bali (2), and Banten (1). Drought and crop failure will be addressed in the identified areas. (ECHO, 25 Jul 2019)