Drought Hits Central Burma despite Delta Floods

By Zarni Mann 16 August 2012

Despite flooding across the Irrawaddy Delta due to heavy rain, drought has hit central Burma destroying the crops of farmers in Mandalay Division.

According to experts, the lack of tropical storms in the Bay of Bengal combined with climate change as created a climatic imbalance in the country with much of the season’s harvest under threat.

In Taung Tha Township, Myin Chan District, Mandalay Division, crops are just sprouting and so remain at dire risk of perishing due to the lack of water.

“The crops will die if we don’t get rain in a few days,” a farmer from Taung Tha told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “As we cannot depend on this monsoon season’s crops, our only hope is on the winter crops and hopefully we will get rain for them.”

Farmers in Magwe Division said their fields—which produce peanuts, pigeon peas and various pulse crops—are also facing ruin due to the drought.

“Eighty percent of my peanut crop has dried up. We will not get any profit this monsoon season. If there is no rainfall in a week we will surely face difficulties with water ourselves as well,” said a farmer from Myaing Township, Pakokku District, Magwe Division.

Around 7,000 acres of crops around Myaing have been destroyed and many more are at risk, according to local people.

“In some villages, the need of drinking water is severe,” the farmer added. “People have to travel far to other villages which have a well or pond where they can get a few liters of water. Livestock is also struggling to get food as well.”

Dr. Tun Lwin, the former director-general of Burma’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, told The Irrawaddy that a combination of factors are to blame.

“There are no storms in the Bay of Bengal this monsoon which would bring the possibility of rainfall for central Burma,” he said. “Meanwhile, monsoon winds are so strong that the rain only falls in coastal and mountainous areas.

“Due to climate change, the monsoon winds which reach the northern part of the country and Himalayan region have not turned back so that this situation has created a drought in certain areas centrally.

“Hopefully in mid-September, during the withdrawal phase of the monsoon from the northern region, central Burma will get rain,” he added.