Mon, 01 Aug 1994

Dry spell may continue until October

JAKARTA (JP): Weather experts are predicting that the current dry spell will last until October in most parts of Indonesia, although some areas may begin to see rain in September.

Karjoto Sontokusumo, the chairman of the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency, said on Saturday that rain might start falling in 17 percent of the country in September, but for most of the nation, rain will not come until October.

Karjoto acknowledged that the current dry season is one of the worst to hit Indonesia in recent years. He ranked it on the same level as that experienced in 1991 when many regions, including the nation's main rice growing areas, saw a crippling water crisis.

This year, the dry season came earlier than expected in most parts of Java and West Nusa Tenggara. The water supply in many parts of Java is reported to be critical, causing massive rice crop failures and threatening more.

Karjoto was speaking after attending the closing ceremony of the 17th meeting of the Sub-committee on Meteorology and Geophysics of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN).

Karjoto said that all delegations of member countries agreed to forge cooperation in research on meteorology, climatology and geophysics.

"Singapore is responsible for conducting a meteorological project, Thailand will coordinate a research project in the field of meteorology and cloud-seeding, while Indonesia will be responsible for geophysics research," he said.

ASEAN groups Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Karjoto said the sub-committee would need to set up a fund to carry out the projects. Several donor countries, such as Japan, Australia and the United States, and financial institutions, such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank, have agreed to finance some of the projects.

Sub-committee Chairman Patipat Patvivatsiri of Thailand said ASEAN and the European Union would also conduct a joint scientific project to assess natural hazards in Southeast Asia.

"The project, whose funding will come from the European Union countries, is expected to be underway this year to improve our capability in minimizing negative impacts of natural hazards in this region," he said. (rms)