Drought hits less severely this year

KHON KAEN - Twenty-five provinces have been declared drought-affected areas since October, a significant drop on the same period last year.

The figures were announced on Thursday after caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra held a meeting in Khon Kaen to follow up on measures being implemented to ease the drought.

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Chatchai Promlert said 25 provinces have been declared drought-hit, compared to 45 provinces at the same time last year. He attributed this year's drop in drought areas to better water management.

Ms Yingluck said although this year's drought situation was less severe, the government was still determined to manage water resources efficiently to ensure there was enough water to meet agricultural and household demand.

She said the state farm zoning policy, recently adopted by Chaiyaphum province, has provided a sustainable solution to drought. She instructed provincial governors to implement the policy and find more water storage areas. 

She asked the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency to work with provincial authorities to survey crops that were suitable for planting in each area.

She said the planting of second-crop rice had to take into consideration whether enough water reserves were available, and told provincial authorities to explain the matter to farmers.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said drought has been recorded in 123 districts across the country since October, with 6,391 villages affected.

By region, there were 10 drought-stricken provinces in the North, seven in the Northeast, three each in the Central Plains and East, and two in the South.

Mr Chatchai said the caretaker premier expressed concern over the drought situation, saying Ms Yingluck had assigned provincial authorities to work with state agencies to help residents.

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