Thailand's Drought Struggle

 
 

Many regions of Thailand are struggling with what some have called the worst drought in decades, with nearly 30 of Thailand’s 77 provinces declared drought affected according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM).

Climate experts have pointed to an El Niño weather pattern along with the effects of climate change as the cause for drier and unusually hot weather across much of the country, with canals, reservoirs and dams all at record low levels.

For the nation’s farmers, meanwhile, the high temperatures combined with last year’s short-lived wet season have forced some to plant more drought-resistant crops, yet in some places even these are failing.

With the wet season set to begin, many affected communities are hoping that significant rainfall will help to ease the situation, but there remains a collective anxiety that a brief wet season this year will not provide adequate rainfall to bring relief to farmers and communities most affected.

Thailand's Drought Struggle
Jinda, a farmer in Suphanburi province, surveys a field where rice would usually be planted. Severe drought conditions and limited water flowing through nearby irrigated canals have forced many farmers to be selective and grow more drought resistant crops.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
A line of water markers lead down to the water’s edge at the Mae Kuang dam in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province. The distant tree line provides an indication of past dam levels while significant rainfall is believed to be still months away.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
The view down river from the gates of the Mae Kuang dam in Chiang Mai province. The current water levels at the dam sit below the gates meaning water release is not possible.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
Ngam, a fisherman, lands his boat with his catch for the day after passing through choked waterways in Ping River near Chom Thong, in Chiang Mai province. Low water levels mean that many of the larger bodies of water are often difficult to navigate due to crowding from vegetation. Open areas like this one are becoming more sparse as the dry season continues and the temperature rises.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
A farmer feeds his water buffalo next to a small waterhole where the Ping River usually runs near Chom Thong, in Chiang Mai province. The river is dry in some places as the region struggles through severe drought conditions. Many districts in the Chiang Mai region have been declared drought-affected and significant rainfall is not expected for months.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
A young fisherman tries his luck in some of the small waterholes remaining in the Ping River near Chom Thong, near Chiang Mai. Many districts in Chiang Mai province and throughout the country have been declared drought-affected and significant rainfall is not expected for months.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
In the city of Chiang Mai, there were few signs of drought. In the lead-up to Songkran (a popular holiday marking the Thai new year by throwing water) some local nightclubs threw "pre-Songkran" festivities to promote the upcoming water festival and attract patrons.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
A farmer inspects his struggling rice crop in central Thailand. Severe drought conditions and limited water flowing through nearby irrigated canals have forced many farmers to grow selectively in order to ration the water they can access.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
A farmer near Uthong in Suphanburi province watches over a controlled burn in one of her fields. Government officials have condemned this practice, citing concerns for air quality made worse by the lack of rain. However, burning fields after harvest is often practiced by farmers in order to quickly make way for future crops.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
Thailand's Drought Struggle
A farmer shows some of his failed bean crop near Uthong in Suphanburi province. Dry conditions in Thailand are forcing farmers to plant more drought resistant crops such as beans instead of rice. In many areas however, even substituted crops are failing due to the severe drought.
Image Credit: Cory Wright
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