April 13, 2024

At least 65 provinces, or 77 percent of the total provinces of the country, are forecast to experience drought by the end of May 2024 due to a “strong” El Niño, Science and Technology Sec. Renato Solidum, Jr. said.

Solidum said the dry spell will be felt in north Luzon and northern extreme Luzon, while dry conditions would prevail in some parts of Mindanao.

“By the end of May, 77 percent of the provinces of the country will have potential for drought. That would be around 65 provinces,” he said.

“So, essentially, the rest of the country would be from dry condition to drought, mostly drought,” Solidum added.

A dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, while a dry condition is defined as two consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, both 21 to 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.

Drought is three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition (60 percent reduction from average rainfall).

Solidum said the effects of El Niño are currently felt and have been experienced in some areas in the country, noting the reduction of rainfall up to 80 percent which led to dry conditions or dry spells.

“Based on recent conditions, moderate to severe drought conditions are likely from February to May 2024,” Solidum said.

Solidum warned that there is an indication that the strong weather phenomenon is “comparable” to the 1997 to 1998 episode, which was regarded as the worst El Niño in the world.

He said El Niño is nearing its peak in the coming months and will likely persist until the second quarter of 2024.

He said efforts must be intensified to ensure that the country is ready for the phenomenon.

Solidum said the government has prepared a national action plan that aims to ensure water security, food security, energy security, and health public safety amid the El Niño phenomenon.

“We need to plan ahead and we should make fast progress. The evaluation changed from the previous one,” Solidum said. “We also need to involve everyone in this effort.”

In November, Marcos directed concerned government agencies to give production support to provinces that are vulnerable to the impacts of El Niño. – PNA