“The drought situation this year will be worse than in previous years. Many of the main rivers are drying up while salty seawater is intruding into the rivers also,” he told the media yesterday after a cabinet meeting.
“The government is going to approve a budget to help drought-affected farmers and villagers. The help might come in forms of creating alternative job opportunities. Help will come along,” he added.
When questioned on how to provide water resources for drought-stricken villages, the premier said the government has ordered provincial administrations across the country to dig wells to tap water from aquifers.
Thailand is combating severe drought which the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD)'s acting director-general Kornrawee Sittichivapak said would be the worst in four decades.
Precipitation in the last year decreased by 18% from previous years across the country and as much as 24% in northern and upper central region provinces, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Last week, the TMD warned that the drought will reach critical levels this month and February and that the problem will continue until May before the return of the rains in June.
The areas predicted to be hardest hit will be 43 provinces in the northern, upper central and northeastern central regions, according to TMD's official forecast released on Dec 23.
It is unclear when the government relief package for affected regions is likely to be available.