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Sri Lanka warned to expect worst drought disaster in four decades
Posted:Dec 30, 2016
 
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Sri Lankans have been warned to conserve water and electricity as the country braces for perhaps the worst drought since the early 1970s, with crop output down and possible shortages of drinking water, officials said. Disaster Management Minister Anura Yapa said the government was gearing up to deal with drought relief including food and water but early conservation efforts could help mitigate the coming crisis. Sri Lanka may need to bring down bowsers (road water tankers) to distribute water if the crisis got worse. 
 
“In the past the maximum bowsers we could hire was about 270,” Minister Yapa said. “We may need to appeal for bowsers if water problems get really bad.” Sri Lanka’s rice crop in the main cultivation season is already expected to be sharply down with only about 30 percent of arable area cultivated. The Department of Irrigation has stopped issuing water for cultivation as drinking water has taken priority.
 
Yapa said the disaster management office, which works through district secretaries was already gearing up to distribute flood relief. Deputy Information Minister Karunarathna Paranavithanage said social conflicts can arise in the next few weeks. There were already rumblings about farmers threatening to cut tank bunds to get water.  He said in the past droughts have resulted in conflicts over access to wells and streams.
 
The drought could get acute from January to March, until rain comes in April. Lalith Chandrapala, Head of Sri Lanka’s met department said extreme weather has become more common in recent year with heavy rainfall and acute drought. A key reason was getting large amounts of rain over a small period and leaving long periods without drought. The 2016/2017 drought could be the worst experienced in 1973/74 in Sri Lanka’s dry zone, according to some analysts.
 
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Daily Mirror, December 30, 2016
 
 
 
 
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