South Asia: Intense deficits forecast for central India, surpluses Bangladesh

26 September 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast ending May 2018 indicates intense water deficits in India’s central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh trailing west along the Narmada River, east along the Mahanadi River, and south into Telangana. Deficits of equal intensity are forecast in Karnataka, tracing east along the Tungabhadra River.

Severe deficits are forecast for southern Afghanistan and southwestern Pakistan.

Exceptional surpluses are expected in Bangladesh, Mizoram, Tripura, and Manipur, and surpluses of varying intensity are forecast in Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, and Nepal.

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources warns that the country will approach "absolute scarcity" of water - not enough to meet demand - by 2025. The country is dependent on a single source, the Indus River, for its water, and the combined pressures of lower rainfall, increased population, urbanization, lack of storage, deep-well drilling, corruption, water mismanagement, and climate change are cited as causes of current and impending shortages.

Half of Baluchistan, the country's largest province, is in drought, and the water level in the provincial capital of Quetta is decreasing by three-and-a-half feet each year. One Agriculture Department official warns that, without effective infrastructure development to retain water, Baluchistan's population will be forced to migrate. Almond, grape, and apricot crops have suffered in Baluchistan and poverty is rising.

Animal fodder has been so scarce in the neighboring southern province of Sindh due to drought that the traditional holiday feast of goat on Eid al-Adha is out of the price range of many Muslims. In eastern Sindh the Pakistan Army has established free medical camps in drought-hit Tharkarpar.

The death toll from flooding in South Asia over the past two months has risen to over 1,400 victims in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, according to Oxfam. The flooding has affected 40 million people and kept 1.8 million children out of school. Diarrhea, malaria, and dengue have broken out, with around 13,000 cases of diarrhea and respiratory illnesses reported in Bangladesh. India's foodgrain output is expected to fall by 9 million tonnes (metric tonnes) due to both flooding and drought.

Since May, China has not been providing India with hydrological data on the Brahmaputra River, whose origins are in Tibet. 

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

As seen in the map progression above, the forecast for the region indicates a relatively consistent pattern of water anomalies from September through May, characterized by exceptional deficits in central Indian states and surpluses of varying intensity in Bangladesh, Nepal, and far eastern India.

The near-term forecast, September through November, shows a concentration of exceptional deficits in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh trailing west along the Narmada River, and – with only slightly lesser intensity – trailing east along the Mahanadi River into Odisha, and south into Telangana. Pockets of severe to extreme deficits are forecast in Karnataka, east along the Tungabhadra River, and north into Goa and coastal Maharashtra. In southwestern Afghanistan some severe to exceptional deficits are forecast to persist in Farah and Nimruz Provinces, and moderate deficits will emerge throughout much of southern Baluchistan, Pakistan.

The extent of exceptional surpluses in Bangladesh will decrease only slightly, providing some relief in Rangpur and Rajshahi Divisions in the northwest. Exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in the far eastern Indian states of Tripura and Mizoram, but surpluses in regions just north are expected to diminish in both extent and severity. In India’s westernmost state, Gujarat on the Arabian Sea, exceptional surpluses are forecast to downgrade, ranging from moderate to extreme. Observed surpluses in southern Chhattisgarh will nearly disappear, and surpluses will retreat in West Bengal. Some severe surpluses are forecast to emerge near Bengaluru in southeastern Karnataka. Surpluses of varying severity will continue to emerge in Nepal, though of lesser intensity than in recent months.

From December through February the extent of intense deficits in central India is expected to decrease somewhat, downgrading to moderate in Telangana. Surpluses in Gujarat are expected to transition to conditions of both deficit and surplus as deficits emerge. Severe to extreme deficits are forecast to emerge in Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast. Surpluses will persist in Bangladesh, though the extent of exceptional surpluses will continue to decrease in the west. Exceptional surpluses will persist in Tripura and Mizoram, India but surpluses farther north are expected to transition to both deficit and surplus as deficits emerge.

The forecast for the final period, March through May 2018, indicates conditions similar to the previous 3-month period but with an increase in severe deficits in India’s far northeastern states.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.


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.

For more information contact

Copyright 2019 ISCIENCES, L.L.C. Global Water Monitor & Forecast Watch List is the property of ISCIENCES, L.L.C. It is protected by U.S. copyright laws and may not be reproduced in any way without the written permission of ISCIENCES, L.L.C. The user assumes the entire risk related to its use of information on ISCIENCES, L.L.C. Web pages, including information derived from Water Security Indicators Model (WSIM). This information may include forecasts, projections and other predictive statements that represent ISCIENCES, L.L.C.’s assumptions and expectations in light of currently available information and using the highest professional standards. Actual results may differ from those projected. Consequently, no guarantee is presented or implied as to the accuracy of specific forecasts, projections or predictive statements contained herein. ISCIENCES, L.L.C. provides such information "as is," and disclaims any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will ISCIENCES, L.L.C. be liable to you or to any third party for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages or lost profit resulting from any use or misuse of this data.