South Asia: Water deficits forecast for Madhya Pradesh through Chhattisgarh

24 July 2017

The Big Picture
South Asia is forecast to experience moderate to severe deficit conditions across much of the region over the 12-month forecast period (below). The most intense deficits will be in western Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in eastern Tamil Nadu, India.

Conditions of exceptional surplus are forecast in Jammu and Kashmir, central Nepal, and in Meghalaya extending into eastern Bangladesh.

Despite a 9 percent increase in acreage sown this year, wheat production in Afghanistan's Samangan Province declined 28 percent due to drought. The current yield of 65,000 tonnes (metric) falls well short of the province's self-sufficiency goal of 85,000 required to meet the needs of Samangan's residents.

Kharif crops in peninsular India - those cultivated in the rainy season from April through October - are suffering from lack of moisture and officials in Maharashtra have advised farmers to postpone sowing. At mid-July sowing of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, and cotton in Maharashtra and Karnataka were running behind last year. Over the past 10 years sugarcane cultivation in Tamil Nadu has declined 41 percent due to inadequate rainfall, with fixed pricing, falling yields, and rising labor costs contributing to the decline.

Sri Lanka is looking into procurement of 300,000 tonnes (metric) of rice from Pakistan to cover national shortfalls due to drought and floods.

The water supply to India's port city of Chennai - home to 8 million people - has dropped by half as of the end of June, according to the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board, as drought has dried up lakes and reservoirs in the region. Water costs have gone up 50 percent, piped water is available only once every three to four days in many areas, and the government has deployed 7,000 water tankers.

The month of Ramadan (May 26-June 24) brought high temperatures, water shortages, power outages, and protests in Pakistan

Stagnant water from early monsoon rains is being cited as the cause of a dengue outbreak in Kerala, India that has killed 21 people. The state government plans to set up emergency medical camps in schools and temples.

In an innovative approach to addressing drought, villagers in Himalayan communities in northern India are constructing "ice stupas" inspired by traditional Buddhist stone meditation monuments to store frozen water from the winter months which, as it melts, will be used to irrigate trees during the dry spring months.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions.

The forecast for July through September indicates a retreat of exceptional deficits in western Afghanistan and Pakistan and the widespread emergence of moderate to extreme deficits throughout much of India. Severe to extreme deficits are expected in the center of the country in Madhya Pradesh, extending eastward into Chhattisgarh and southern Jharkhand, as well as Odisha, where small pockets of exceptional deficits may emerge. Likewise, deficits of similar intensity trace a path from southern Maharashtra down through Karnataka, veering eastward into Tamil Nadu. Moderate deficits will emerge across India’s border into Nepal. Severe to exceptional deficits are expected to persist in southwestern Afghanistan.

Surpluses are forecast to persist east of Kabul, Afghanistan and along the Indus River in Pakistan north of Islamabad. Exceptional surplus conditions are forecast in northeastern Jammu and Kashmir and along the Gandaki River in central Nepal. India’s Arunachal Pradesh and Assam will generally transition out of surplus, as will Bhutan. Observed surpluses in western Bangladesh and Tripura in the east, as well as in Manipur and Mizoram, India, will diminish in intensity, while exceptional surpluses will persist in central Bangladesh.

The forecast for October through December indicates primarily moderate deficits in India’s northern half, near-normal conditions in the south, and a general moderating of aforementioned anomalous water conditions elsewhere in South Asia. Severe deficits may emerge in central Bhutan.

The forecast for the final period, January through March 2018, indicates severe to exceptional deficit conditions developing in southern Gujarat and into Madhya Pradesh, and moderate deficits re-emerging in India’s vast southern half.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
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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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