Worst Drought in Decades Disrupts Life in Southeast Asia’s Mekong Region

The El Nino weather pattern and hydroelectric dams are blamed for the crippling drought Southeast Asia has been going through.

A Thai villager takes a selfie on parched land at the dried up Mae Chang reservoir in Lampang province, northern Thailand, on March 12, 2016. 

This ruined village had been underwater for 34 years since the Mae Chang reservoir was built in 1982, but the area has now re-emerged after water in the reservoir dried up.


Thai Buddhist monks stand near the almost dried-up Mae Chang reservoir in Lampang province, Thailand, on March 12, 2016. 

Thailand is facing water shortage caused by the worst drought in decades due to El Niño phenomenon combined with seasonal hot weather, which have critically hit water storage as the water levels in the country's biggest dams are lower than 10 percent.


A boy looks for fish in a nearly dry canal in the Long Phú district in Soc Trang province, Vietnam on March 8, 2016.

Vietnam’s coffee and rice exports are very likely to be affected by its worst drought in decades, with salinization hitting farmers especially hard in the crucial southern Mekong delta.

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Myanmar women carrying buckets on their heads collect drinking water from the outskirts of Naypyitaw on April 25, 2016.


A rice paddy cracks as drought condition continues in Chai Nat province, Thailand on March 28, 2016.

This year, Thailand's traditional Songkran Water Festival was overshadowed by the drought condition.

Sakchai Lalit / AP

A boy carries buckets to collect clean water at Sapa village, in the outskirts of Mandalay, Myanmar, on Feb. 23, 2016.


A farmer harvests dried sugarcane on her drought-stricken farm in Soc Trang province, Vietnam on March 31, 2016.

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A woman collects dried lotus leaves for traditional medicine at Chreh village outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on March 24, 2016.

According to the Associated Press, the prime minister of Cambodia on April 26 called upon all elements in Cambodian society to mobilize to help deal with the worst drought in at least four decades, which has left about two-thirds of the country's 25 provinces short of water for drinking and other necessities.

Heng Sinith / AP

A Myanmar migrant laborer carries a basket of salt to load into a truck after the harvest at a salt farm in Samut Sakhon province, Thailand, on April 5, 2016. 

Thailand produces more than 1 million tons of salt each year and it is expected that the current drought will bring a longer salt harvest season.


Ko Bo Bo, 29, goes to collect water from a small pond that his family once used for drinking water on May 1, 2016 in Dala, Myanmar.

Lauren DeCicca / Getty Images

Residents of Dala, a township south of Yangon, receive drinking water from local donors organized by Buddhist monks after almost all the lakes and ponds dried up in their community, on May 1, 2016.

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