Without forest cover, less water is released into the atmosphere to form clouds and rain. Trees are important for regulating water flow into rivers and help maintain higher water levels in rivers during tdry season. Conversely, during the rainy season, without trees and healthy soil to soak up excess water, there can be more floods less trees means more floods. In recent years, Cambodians have been experiencing more extreme wet and dry seasons and in 2016 experienced the worst drought in half a century.
If current patterns persist, crippling droughts like these are set to continue through Southeast Asia. According to a joint study by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and ASEAN, in a best-case scenario, from 2021 to 2050 drought would extend across all of Indonesia; moderate to extreme drought would cover every part of Thailand and Cambodia; and northern Vietnam and some parts of Malaysia would also face extreme drought conditions.
By 2100, 96% of the ASEAN region is likely to be drought-stricken. Until then, urgent decisions are required to prepare for future drought according to the study, including robust mitigation and adaptation plans. (Read more here)