SOUTH ASIA: INTENSE WATER DEFICITS WILL REMAIN WIDESPREAD IN AFGHANISTAN

31 May 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast indicates intense water deficits in much of Afghanistan with exceptional deficits blanketing half of the country north of the Helmand River. Deficits are also forecast for Pakistan and are expected to be intense in central Pakistan, western Baluchistan, and in the southeast.

In India, severe to exceptional deficits are forecast in the north spreading from Chandigarh, and severe deficits are expected in Assam in the Far Northeast. Moderate deficits are forecast for the center of the country in Madhya Pradesh reaching north into Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Moderate deficits are also forecast in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Exceptional surpluses are forecast in Jammu and Kashmir; primarily moderate surpluses are forecast in the Penner River watershed and along the Bay of Bengal in Odisha and West Bengal.

Elsewhere in the region, deficits are expected in Bhutan, exceptional surpluses along the Gandaki River in Nepal, and moderate to extreme surpluses in northern Bangladesh.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

As is apparent in the map progression above, India is forecast to transition out of widespread deficit to milder conditions. However, exceptional deficits are forecast through July surrounding Chandigarh, with some moderate deficits trailing south through Rajasthan. Intense deficits will emerge in India’s Far Northeast. Conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast in the western Penner River watershed in Andhra Pradesh. Moderate surpluses are forecast for northern Odisha and West Bengal, and along the Tapi River in the west. Some intense surpluses are expected in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though the extent of exceptional deficits will decrease slightly in Afghanistan, deficits will remain widespread and intense. Deficits in Pakistan will generally moderate. Intense surpluses are forecast for the Gandaki River in Nepal. Moderate to extreme surpluses are forecast for northern Bangladesh.

From August through October, exceptional deficits will continue to emerge in Afghanistan, covering the south and northwest, while conditions in neighboring Pakistan are expected to be merely mild with some moderate surpluses emerging along the Indus River. Conditions in central India will be relatively normal. Moderate deficits are expected in northern Bihar, through Uttar Pradesh, and into the northern states. Surpluses are forecast for eastern Jammu and Kashmir. Moderate to severe deficits are expected in the Far Northeast. Moderate surpluses will emerge in northern Andhra Pradesh. Bangladesh will transition to near-normal conditions, moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for Bhutan, and surpluses will persist on the Gandaki River in Nepal.

The forecast for the final period – November through January – indicates that deficits will moderate in Afghanistan and will emerge in northern and northwestern India.

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

IMPACTS
Heavy rain storms triggered flash flooding causing landslides and treacherous river conditions in several Nepali districts in early May, killing several people and destroying homes and farmlands across the country.

The Meteorological Department of Bangladesh is warning that the monsoon season is predicted to begin early this year, and that this season may be more devastating than usual. The capital city of Dhaka received 146 millimeters (5.74 inches) of rain in two days in late April, an event that national meteorologists called “unprecedented.” Roughly 200,000 Rohingya refugees currently residing in vulnerable areas of Bangladesh are being relocated to safer areas, following the relocation of another 100,000 over the last few months.

Severe flooding over the course of a week killed 34 people and injured others in the northern provinces of Afghanistan this month. Floods inflicted major damage to around 900 homes, and hundreds of livestock were killed. The deluge comes amid drought in many other areas of the country after an unusually dry winter. Water shortages could affect up to 2 million rural residents and, with malnutrition rates already high, could be especially devastating to children. Since October, livestock production has declined and livestock sale prices have dropped by 20 to 30 percent as a result of water shortages.

A study commissioned by India’s environment ministry indicates that drought, desertification, and land degradation cost the country 2.54 percent of its GDP in 2014-15, mostly in losses of potential grain production.

A severe dust storm swept across India in early May, killing at least 125 people and injuring hundreds of others. Most deaths occurred in the northern states where high winds collapsed homes overnight, trapping people inside. One disaster management official in Rajasthan state described the storm as the worst he'd seen in 20 years.

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.

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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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