South Asia: Water deficits continue to emerge in India, surpluses in NE Afghanistan

17 February 2017

The Big Picture
Water deficits are forecast for much of India, Sri Lanka, and eastern Bhutan, as seen in the 12-month forecast (below), including exceptional deficits in India’s south and northeast. Surpluses are forecast for eastern Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, central Nepal, and southwestern Myanmar.

The Indian Sugar Mills Association reports that sugar production has fallen 15 percent in the 2016-17 marketing year which began in October, due to drought in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Tea producers are also reporting drought-related decline in production. Kanan Devan Hill Plantations, the largest tea plantation in South India, expects production to be down 10 percent

Animal-human conflict has increased in India as animals encroach on farms and communities in search of water. Three people were gored to death in Kerala by elephant herds in separate incidences in forested districts.

Over 700,000 people have been affected by severe drought in Sri Lanka, according to the Disaster Management Centre. If the main harvest season in March/April 2017 fails, as expected, it could be the worst agricultural season in 40 years.

A UNDP report says that water crisis is threatening Pakistan's stability, and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources has warned that the country could run out of water by 2025. Pakistan is the third most water-stressed country in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Forecast Breakdown
First, notice the predominance of purple across India’s mid-section in the February through April map. This indicates a forecast of both deficits and surpluses as deficits emerge in places formerly experiencing surplus, such as the Chambal, Son, and Godavari Basins (from blue Nov-Jan to purple/pink Feb-Apr). Also formerly normal areas (white) from Maharashtra to Odisha show a transition to deficit conditions of varying intensity. Exceptional deficits are forecast for Gujarat, parts of Telangana, Kerala, and northeast India; and in Karachi, Pakistan.

Surpluses are forecast along major rivers in northeastern Pakistan, and throughout Afghanistan, with greater intensity in the northeast. Exceptional surpluses are forecast for eastern Nepal. Surpluses are expected for much of Bangladesh but a transition to both deficit and surplus is evident along the coast and into Myanmar.

From May through July deficits in India will diminish considerably in severity, leaving some moderate deficits forecast for southern India, though deficits could reach extreme intensity along the southeast coast through Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Severe to exceptional deficits are expected in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and in Bhutan. Moderate to isolated small pockets of exceptional surpluses are forecast in the Banas River Basin. Surpluses will continue to emerge in Afghanistan and may be exceptional in the Upper Helmand Basin.

The final months of the forecast – July through September – indicates and increase in the extent and intensity of deficits in India and its neighbors to the north and east.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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