Drought in Mainland Southeast Asia – March 2020 JRC Global Drought Observatory (GDO) and ERCC Analytical Team 18/03/2020

Most of the Mekong river basin and neighboring regions in Southeast Asia are experiencing relatively dry conditions, involving most of mainland Thailand and parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Despite a wet climate, underperforming precipitation since at least mid-2019 has hampered the yearly water balance, both in terms of precipitation per se and downstream river flows. 

Impacts on crops and water supply have been reported, mostly in the lower Mekong basin and in relation to saline intrusion from the river delta. Reservoirs are lower than average for the period, but generally not critically low. Substantial support is being provided by local governments. 

With the month of March marking the end of the short dry season, the precipitation outlook from March to May 2020 is overall neutral, suggesting normal rainfall for the months of transition to the wetter half of the year. If the forecasts prove correct, the affected areas may endure a couple of more months of drought before recovery. 

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