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Asia-Pacific Region: El Niño Snapshot (as of October 2015)

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Current conditions and forecast

A strong El Niño prevails in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is expected to be the most powerful manifestation since 1997–98. A weak monsoon season and associated drought is the dominant feature across South and South-East Asia.

Concurrently, many countries in the region are at increased risk of floods and heavy rainfall. In some areas an amplified cyclone season may be expected. Multiple climate models forecast that El Niño conditions will continue throughout 2015 and into early 2016, with many systems predicting that it will strengthen during the last quarter of the year with impacts felt over the season ahead.

Impact and response

THE PACIFIC

90,000 receiving emergency food distributions in Vanuatu

As many as 2.3 million people in 10 south Pacific countries are at risk of being affected by drought. Governments are taking measures to mitigate the potential negative impacts of the drought. Drought warnings are now in force for Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, a drought watch is in place in the Solomon Islands and drought alerts have been issued for Vanuatu and Palau. Water deliveries are already targeting 67 000 people in Fiji and 90 000 people are being targeted with food deliveries in Vanuatu.

Intensified drought conditions will be particularly difficult for countries such as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands that are just emerging from the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclones Pam and Raquel. The risk of severe cyclones is also increased during an El Niño event. El Niño may also see cyclones form over a much wider region of the Pacific and intensify as they travel to the south east, over the warmer than normal water.

THE PHILIPPINES

32,000 hectares of rice fields affected (as of 05 October)

With the strong El Niño, the Philippines had fewer tropical cyclones, delayed onset of the rainy season and below normal rainfall in most part of the country. The current El Niño episode has already affected 65,000 farmers and over 32,000 hectares of rice fields. Forecast models show that large parts of the country would suffer from dry spells and drought in the coming months. By March 2016, 85 per cent of the country may be experiencing drought. The government plans to allocate US$412 million to address the potential impact of El Niño. While Typhoon Koppu destroyed crops ready for harvest, the rains associated with the typhoon provided much needed water to several dams reeling from the effects of drought.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

2.4 million people affected by drought and severe frost

Drought and severe frost severely reduced harvest of the main staple food and affected an estimated 2.4 million people including in Simbu, Enga, and Southern, Easter, and Western Highlands. Local water sources are also becoming scarce. Negative coping strategies, such as one meal a day, have been reported. The Government activated the National Disaster Centre.

INDONESIA

43 million people in Indonesia affected by haze

Drought associated with El Niño is reported in 16 of 34 provinces; 43 districts in eight provinces are facing an extreme drought. Agricultural production, as well as water supplies, forestry, fisheries and agroforestry industries are affected. The government has allocated US$259 million for water and food, should an emergency be declared. El Niño has exacerbated the impact of peat land and forest fires, with haze affecting over 43 million people in Indonesia. The Ministry of Health reported that ten people have died and more than 272,000 people have suffered from acute respiratory infection from August to September.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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