Prachuap Khiri Khan prepares to support drought-impacted residents and tackle wildfires, haze, and PM 2.5 pollution

File photo, just for illustrative purposes.

On February 19, 2024, the Prachuap Khiri Khan Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Committee, led by Deputy Governor Mr. Kittiphong Sukhapakul in the absence of the Governor, convened at the main meeting room on the 5th floor of Ko Lak, Prachuap Khiri Khan Provincial Hall.

The meeting focused on addressing drought conditions and formulating strategies for the prevention and management of wildfires, smog, and PM 2.5 dust particles.

To this end, Prachuap Khiri Khan has established a Command Center for Drought Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, tasked with monitoring the situation and coordinating aid for affected residents.

Although no areas have yet been officially designated as emergency disaster relief zones for drought, an assessment has identified five districts at high risk of water shortages, including Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan, Sam Roi Yot, Thap Sakae, Bang Saphan, and Bang Saphan Noi, impacting 11 sub-districts and 34 villages/communities.

Additionally, eight districts, encompassing 48 sub-districts and 437 villages/communities, have been pinpointed as vulnerable to agricultural drought.

The province plans to collaborate with relevant bodies to ensure the provision of drinking water throughout the drought season.

According to predictions from the Prachuap Khiri Khan Meteorological Station, Thailand’s summer is set to begin in the fourth week of February 2024, with temperatures expected to rise by 1-1.5 degrees Celsius above the usual average.

March 2024 is likely to see reduced rainfall due to the El Niño phenomenon, but from April to June, conditions should normalize with an increase in rainfall, anticipated to begin in July due to the La Niña phenomenon.

Presently, the nine major reservoirs in the province hold a mere 167 million cubic meters of water, which is only 33% of their total capacity. The Royal Irrigation Department has been proactive in advising water user groups about the current water situation and promoting the cultivation of less water-intensive crops during the drought period to minimize agricultural losses.

In terms of wildfires, haze, and PM 2.5 dust issues, 2023 saw 17 wildfire incidents in Prachuap Khiri Khan, with 11 in March and 6 in April, mainly in the Hua Hin and Pranburi districts.

Deputy Governor Kittiphong Sukhapakul has directed the Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office to vigilantly monitor and coordinate rapid responses to any detected hotspots to prevent the spread of wildfires. Local government bodies have also been tasked with encouraging public cooperation to avoid open burning, thereby reducing haze pollution.

Additionally, the Provincial Transport Office has been instructed to rigorously enforce vehicle inspections to identify and address black smoke emissions, which significantly contribute to PM 2.5 pollution.

Starting February 20th, checkpoints for vehicles emitting black smoke will be set up along Phetkasem Road from Cha-am to Pranburi, near the Hua Hin District Office, to ensure compliance and encourage necessary engine maintenance and repairs for exceeding vehicles.