News Focus

Several Indonesian regions brace for drought

Several Indonesian regions brace for drought

Drought in East Nusa Tenggara. (ANTARA FOTO/Kornelis Kaha)

Several regional authorities have been reminded to intensify the monitoring for possible forest fires and droughts, as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMK) forecasts that this year's dry season will be drier, compared to the previous year.

In fact, all regions in Java, notably West Java, Central Java and East Java, have begun to experience the dry season, which is expected to hit its peak in July and August 2019, with the exception of Bogor, West Java, except where local rains continue to lash “the City of Rains”.

"Regions which were affected by droughts during the June, July and August period of last year, should be vigilant this year," Adi Ripalsi, head of the agency's climate information analysis sub-unit, said in Jakarta on June 21, 2019, adding, "Last year, the precipitation during the dry season was less than 20 millimeters a month, and this year, it could go lower."

He also reminded people living in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), Sulawesi, and Sumatra to be vigilant due to the impact caused by droughts. The dry season is expected to reach its peak from August to September in these regions.

"NTB and NTT are harvesting rainwater for farming and, hence, this needs to be supported by irrigation water," he said.

In Central Java, some 360 villages in 31 of the province’s 35 districts are prone to drought this year. Even as Central Java has begun to experience its dry season this June, eight villages in the Banyumas District have already begun facing a water crisis.

"Based on the latest data, eight villages are facing a clean water shortage, as precipitation in Banyumas has decreased," Ariono Poerwanto, acting head of the Banyumas disaster mitigation office, said.

The drought-affected villages included Banjarparakan in Rawalo Sub-district, Nusadadi in Sumpiuh Sub-district, Karanganyar in Patikraja Sub-district, Kediri in Karanglewas Sub-district, Srowot in Kalibagor Sub-district, and Pekuncen in Jatilawang Sub-district.

"And the latest ones are Tamansari Village in Karanglewas Sub-district, and Karangtalun Kidul in Purwojati," he added.

He said his office has distributed clean water to those villages.

The local disaster mitigation office is monitoring other villages to anticipate a water crisis there, he added.

One thousand water tanks have been prepared to send clean water to villages suffering from water shortages during the current dry season, he added.
Regional drinking water company (PDAM) Tirta Satria in Banyumas district, Central Java, has readied three tank trucks to distribute clean water.

Last year, droughts caused water crises in the sub-districts of Sumpiuh, Banyumas, Somagede, Kalibagor, Cilongok, Purwojati, Kebasen, and Karanglewas in Banyumas.

"We are ready to distribute clean water, in accordance with the request, and cooperate with relevant agencies, particularly PDAM subscribers living in drought-hit areas." he said.

In Gunung Kidul District, Yogyakarta special autonomous region, 10 sub-districts are currently being hit by severe droughts.

The ten affected sub-districts were Girisubo, Rongkop, Purwosari, Tepus, Ngawen, Ponjong, Semin, Patuk, Semanu, and Paliyan.
Edi Basuki, head of the Gunung Kidul disaster mitigation office (BPBD), said that "Of the ten drought-affected sub-districts, Paliyan, Girisubo and Rongkop are the worst affected ones. We have distributed clean water to those three sub-districts since June 1".

The Gunung Kidul has allocated a budget of Rp500 million for clean water supplies and deployed seven water tank trucks to deal with the water crisis during the dry season this year.

Located on the equator line, and between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has only two seasons -- rain and dry. The dry season is usually between March to September, while the rainy season lasts from September to March.

Hydro-meteorological disasters have over many years dominated natural disasters in Indonesia, which is often flooded during the rainy season and very dry, and remains extremely dry in certain regions during the dry season.

Based upon data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBN), droughts hit Banten, West Java, Central Java, DI Yogyakarta, East Java, NTB, NTT, and Lampung last year, with some 4.87 million people being affected. The drought hit 4,053 villages in 888 sub-districts located in 111 districts and cities in 11 provinces.

On Java Island, the prolonged dry season triggered wildfires in forest areas located on the slopes of several mountains in Central, East, and West Java Provinces.

Among the mountains hit by wildfires in 2018 were Mount Merbabu, Mount Sumbing, Mount Slamet, and Mount Sindoro in Central Java Province; Mount Argopuro and Mount Sadran in East Java Province; Mount Ciremai in West Java Province; and Mount Lawu located on the border of the provinces of Central and East Java.

Fortunately, vigilant local authorities, supported by volunteers, have managed to control and finally extinguish wildfires in a relatively short period of time.

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