With drought creeping across several provinces in the North and Northeast, focus is rightly being placed on immediate relief assistance for those most affected. The cycle of floods, drought and floods again has been stuck on repeat, with some years worse than others.
This year promises to be a particularly dry one for certain Asean neighbours, with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore all worried about the impact on food prices, economic growth and even the stability of water supply. In Thailand, 18 provinces have already experienced some water shortages and 14 more expect to be affected. While it was heartening to see last week that water reserves in the Northeast were 46% higher than the same time last year, careful management will still be required to minimise the impact on farmers and residents. This week’s Spectrum examines the impacts and policies in more detail.
But while those bearing the brunt of the difficult dry conditions may have immediate problems, the time is ripe for a discussion about the broader issue of how the country adapts to climate change. Lurching from drought to floods and back again has become a reality, and the country requires more than season-by-season crisis management. With agriculture such an essential part of the Thai economy, policymakers and government agencies have shown little in the way of effort to reduce the country’s contribution to human-influenced climate change.