Indonesia: Drought hits E. Nusa Tenggara

Djemi Amnifu Jakarta Globe 27 Apr 16;

A long dry spell and food scarcity are hitting a number of areas in East Nusa Tenggara. The region is bracing for low rainfall throughout 2016.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency ( BMKG ), this year’s dry season started in April, earlier than usual.

“Rain still falls over a number of areas such as Ngada, Manggarai, and West Manggarai, but the rain does not fall evenly. Thus, it is predicted that there will be a food crisis in East Nusa Tenggara,” Tini Thadeus, the province’s Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency ( BPBD ) head, told journalists in Kupang recently.

With very low rainfall, it is likely that East Nusa Tenggara will also suffer a water crisis, she went on to say.

Two villages in East Flores have reportedly been hit by drought and the regency’s BPBD is currently helping the villages by allocating them Rp 1.1 billion ( US$83,301 ).

“A Rp 900 million fund has been allocated for the development of drilled wells and the remaining Rp 200 million will be used to distribute water for residents over the next several months,” said Tini.

She said the East Nusa Tenggara BPBD had sent letters that officially outlined the drought problems to local administrations. The BPBD has branches in all regencies and municipalities across the province.

To handle the food crisis, Tini said the government had prepared an emergency supply called “Rastra”, an abbreviation of beras kesejahteraan, ( rice for the people’s prosperity ). Local administrations in all regencies and municipalities have also prepared rice reserves amounting to 100 tons. The rice will be used to tackle food scarcity and natural disasters.

Tini further explained that the East Nusa Tenggara governor had prepared 200 tons of rice, which would be distributed to the people once rice supplies prepared by the regency and municipality administrations had run out.

She said 200 tons of rice prepared by the provincial administration could be sent and distributed to the people once local administrations at the regency and municipality levels had sent a request letter. Without a request, the provincial administration would not be allowed to supply the rice.

Tini said that in the last seven years, there had been no supply requests submitted by local administrations in any regency or municipality in East Nusa Tenggara. ( ebf )