Some parts of the province are now reeling under the impacts of a serious drought, and it will be a challenge for these areas to meet their water requirements in the upcoming months.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A drought has parched parts of East Nusa Tenggara Province in Indonesia and is feared to cause crop failures, slow down economic growth, and disrupt water supply.

Some parts of the province are now reeling under the impacts of a serious drought, and it will be a challenge for these areas to meet their water requirements in the upcoming months.

Therefore, numerous pumps should be installed for pumping ground water to rice fields for irrigation in order to avert harvest failure.

In addition, the drought is feared to trigger acute respiratory tract infections among thousands of residents, and thus, the local people and government should stay on alert.

It is also advisable for the locals to lead a healthy lifestyle and follow clean living practices to avoid contracting respiratory infections.

Acute respiratory infections are a major concern as they affect normal breathing and usually start as viral infection of the nose, trachea, or lungs.

If such infections are not treated properly, they can spread to the entire respiratory system.

Therefore, the local community must be wary of the symptoms, such as running nose, cough, sore throat, body ache, fatigue, breathing difficulty, dizziness, low blood oxygen levels, and loss of consciousness.

East Nusa Tenggara has one of the highest poverty rates in Indonesia and is prone to drought.

It has poor infrastructure, and its people suffer from malnutrition and hunger, low levels of schooling, and inadequate access to health-care facilities.

Unemployment is high, and the government is facing the challenge of how to tackle these problems and ensure a prosperous future for the people of the province.

Three sub-districts in East Flores District are reported to have experienced crop failures due to the drought.

East Flores Agriculture Office Chief Anton Sogen pointed out that the sub-districts of Ile Boleng, Wotan Ulumado, and Demon Pagong were now experiencing crop failures.

In addition to these three sub-districts, numerous villages on the Solor Island had borne the brunt of crop failures due to erratic rainfall.

Anton Sogen claimed to have conducted real-time monitoring of the drought-hit villages and found that almost all the crops, including both maize and rice, had failed.

"I monitored several villages a month ago, and I saw that the agriculture there was in a very worrisome state," Sogen remarked.

However, Sogen said he had coordinated with relevant agencies such as the Marine and Fisheries Department, Public Works Department, and the Department of Social Affairs to find a way out, so that the problem could be resolved.

He also recorded the losses incurred by the farmers experiencing harvest failure in order to offer compensation to them in the form of rice aid.

"We are also working closely with the district and village heads to assess the condition of the farmers who had experienced crop failure to later offer them assistance in the form of rice aid as a short-term measure, and in the medium term, we will provide them seeds for the next planting season," he explained.

In the Wotan Ulumado Sub-district, the agricultural conditions are in an alarming state as all the corn crops had dried up and had failed to bear fruit due to uneven rainfall.

The El Nino weather phenomenon has frequently spelt disaster in East Nusa Tenggara, causing widespread harvest failure and leading to livestock deaths owing to starvation.

Not only food crops but also thousands of livestock are facing the impacts of serious depletion of life-giving water after a prolonged drought in the province.

El Nino causes not only harvest failure in millions of hectares of farm lands, but it can be the end of the world for tens of thousands of livestock in the middle of dry and empty grazing fields.

In Sumba Timur, the livestock farmers have also almost lost hope as fodder is no longer easily available in the fields to feed their livestock. Hundreds of cattle have already died of starvation.

The farmers are compelled to sell their cattle at cheap prices rather than letting them die in the fields.

In the districts of Nagekeo and Timur Tengah Selatan, the farmers are also suffering from the effects of prolonged drought and food shortages.

Therefore, the people there are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and long-term aid, and thus, an emergency response team is expected to supply clean water to them.

The drought has reduced the quality of life in some parts of East Nusa Tenggara and has led to a water crisis in addition to harvest failure and food scarcity.(*)

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2016