The Severity of Drought in Indonesia in 2019

The 2019 drought that hits Indonesia lasts longer than the droughts in the previous years. The drought not only impacts the availability of water for the local residents, but also for agriculture, affecting the economy of many Indonesian farmers.

The Severity of Drought in Indonesia in 2019' photo
A local Ridogalih villager taking water from a puddle puddle in Cibarusah Subdistrict of Bekasi Regency. Cibarusah Subdistrict is among the areas worst hit by the drought (ACTNews/Eko Ramdani)

ACTNews, BEKASI, YOGYAKARTA – The air in Ridogalih Village, Cibarusah Subdistrict, Bekasi Regency was filled with dust. Open fields and plantations were dry and parched. There has not been any rain in this drought-stricken area.

The rice fields on the side of the main road were left unirrigated. The soil is cracked. Without the water, the farmers can’t cultivate the fields. Hundreds of hectares of rice fields are now left abandoned.

Yudi Setiadi, a local, said that his village has been suffering from drought since early April 2019. For months, the rain has not fallen. Consequently, many of the wells, rivers, and rivers have dried up. The drought has badly affected the agriculture. Here in Cibarusah, there are still many rain-fed rice fields. Even the rice fields that use the water from the river for the irrigation have also dried up because there is no water in the river. Even large rivers like the Cipamingkis river is only left with a little water," said Yudi, Wednesday (10/30).

Some villages in Cibarusah suffer from drought every year, such as Ridomanah and Ridogalih Villages. This year’s drought, however, other villages that are not normally hit by drought also have to suffer.

The Ridogalih Village Field, Cibarusah, Bekasi, which was the location for the inauguration of the ACT Water Truck, Wednesday (10/30). Near the village field are plantations that have dried out due to long drought. (ACTNews / Muhar Zulfikar).

Last July, Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) team visited Cibarusah sub-district to cover the drought that occurred there. The impact is quite severe, especially for farmers. Their economy is badly affected due to not being able to grow crops. The local youth organization said that, during the dry season, cultivate their lands. They have to seek other jobs to make ends meet. Most farmers work as construction workers or go to other cities for work.

Head of Cibarusah Subdistrict Enop Can, on Wednesday (10/30), said that the impact of the drought in 2019 was quite severe compared to the previous years. Hundreds of hectares of rice fields are now unable to be cultivated because there is no water supply. "The drought impacts the economy of the community because so many farmlands have experienced crop failure due to this drought," he said.

Turbid water from one of the ponds in Gunungkidul last July. Due to long drought, residents are forced to use turbid water from such ponds. (ACTNews / Eko Ramdani).

The same thing also happened in Special Region of Yogyakarta, especially in Gunungkidul and Kulonprogo Regencies, whose residents are still having trouble getting water. In Gunungkidul, many residents choose to sell their livestock to buy water because the water price can reach up to IDR 100,000 for 4 thousand liters of water. 4 thousand liters per tank can reach Rp 100,000 or even more depending on the distance from their houses to the water sources. "Many of the residents are economically underprivileged. With this drought, their condition becomes more difficult. They have to sell their animals, which are their most valuable belongings, for water," said Sutaryono, a resident of Grogol Village, Paliyan, Gunungkidul in August 2019.

Until now, the rain intensity in Gunungkidul and Kulon Progo regencies is still in very low. From the data published by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency on October 17, it is estimated that rainfall intensity in Indonesia is still in the low to moderate level. In fact, in most parts of Java and Nusa Tenggara, the possibility of rain is still very low. []