Indonesia Braces for Prolonged Drought, Clean Water Shortage Due to El Nino

Via Channel News Asia, a report on Indonesia’s water crisis:

For weeks, dozens of residents of Ridogalih Village have been flocking to a small river to bathe and wash their clothes, travelling on foot or by motorcycles under the relentless heat of a blaring summer sun.

The water wells in this sleepy village – a 90-minute drive from the eastern edge of the Indonesian capital Jakarta – have dried up since early June, their depths barren and empty.

Meanwhile, the once fertile rice fields that used to stretch like a green sea have started to turn into parched dirt with withered brown rice stems jutting out of the ground.

The dry spell left residents with no choice but to seek water from the nearest body of water: Cihowe, a small river that cuts through the middle of the village.

“Even now the river’s water level is already receding,” 45-year-old Hanifah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told CNA.

The mother of two worries that if the dry spell continues, the Cihowe would reduce to a trickle just like it did in 2019 when two weather phenomena – El Nino and the so-called positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event – resulted in a prolonged drought across Indonesia.

A positive IOD event, which suppresses cloud formation over certain parts of the tropical Indian Ocean, typically brings drier and warmer conditions to many parts of southern Southeast Asia.

That year, the water wells of Ridogalih were barren for seven months, Hanifah said, and the Cihowe stopped flowing completely. Residents had to queue for hours for fresh water distributed by the government and private donors using an army of tanker trucks.

The trucks did not come regularly and residents had to set aside a huge portion of their income to buy mineral water. With nothing growing that year, the farmers of Ridogalih had to look for odd jobs elsewhere, depriving the village of most of its productive-aged residents.

Scientists at the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) predicted that the two weather phenomena will return this year, warning that millions of Indonesians could face prolonged drought, clean water scarcity and crop failure.

The agency also warned that forest and land fires could rise this year.

“Regional governments must mitigate and be prepared (for drought) immediately,” BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati warned on Jul 21, adding that the dry season is expected to peak between August and September and last until early next year.

Last week, local officials across Indonesia began mapping out drought-prone areas and devising strategies to mitigate the impacts of the two weather phenomena. At least one Indonesian province, West Java, where Ridogalih is located, has declared a state of emergency.


According to government data, around 92 per cent of the country reported a “harsher-than-usual” dry season as a result of the 2019 El Nino and positive IOD event.

The condition caused approximately 48.5 million people across Indonesia to experience reduced access to clean water. That year, states of emergency were declared in Java’s Banten, West Java, Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces along with West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara.

The Indonesian government has not made any prediction on how many people will be affected by this year’s drought but certain areas across the vast nation are starting to see the impacts of the two weather phenomena.

This week, famine is reported in three districts in Papua after the dry season resulted in crop failure, Indonesia’s social affairs ministry said. Officials are trying to send in food and other relief aid to affected areas.

In Sragen, Central Java, more than 3,000 people in four districts are facing a clean water crisis and had to rely on supplies dropped by the local disaster mitigation agency, local media reported. The disaster agency predicted that the number of affected people will increase as the dry season continues.

Water scarcity is also reported in two other regencies in Central Java.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 31st, 2023 at 2:51 am and is filed under Indonesia.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Water Politics LLC .  'Water Politics', 'Water. Politics. Life', and 'Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty World' are service marks of Water Politics LLC.