Bogor, West Java. Heavy rains and strong winds damaged at least 67 homes in Bogor district or Friday and briefly refilled water reservoirs, as President Joko Widodo convened key ministers to discuss tackling the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon, which could postpone the arrival of the rainy season until November.
Already, a number regions across the country are experiencing droughts, Kompas.com reported on Friday, such as parts of Java, South Sulawesi, Lampung, East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. Parts of these regions haven’t seen any rain since May.
Besides dwindling supplies of water — for people as well as crops – prolonged droughts also heighten the risk of wildfires.
The Indonesian dry season usually doesn’t last beyond October.
No casualties were reported in Bogor, but families whose homes were destroyed had to find shelter with relatives or in local government buildings.
Bogor, nicknamed the City of Rain, had experienced a lengthy drought before Friday’s rainstorm.
Budi Aksomo, an official with the Bogor Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), said roofs had been blown away, but that the extent of the damage was still being calculated.
The official called on people to remain vigilant, as winds can be particularly strong when it rains hard during the dry season.
Water levels at the Katulampa Dam, on the Ciliwung river, rose dramatically during Friday’s rainstorm, but had dropped by Saturday, on official at the dam confirmed.
In Jakarta on Friday, Joko stressed the need to protect farmers and fishermen from the impacts of El Nino, a phenomenon caused by high sea water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific ocean, which affects air pressure and the weather in various parts of the globe.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Indroyono Soesilo, Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and Minister for Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning Ferry Mursyidan Baldan were present at the meeting with the president.
“We’re looking for solutions, particularly with regard to our vigilance in the face of a number of hotspots that could spark forest fires, which we have to watch out for,” Joko was quoted as saying by Kompas.com. “The most important is how we can safe or farmers and our fishermen.”
The president has already instructed Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman to send water pumps to the hardest-hit areas and in the longer term Joko plans to increase the number of water reservoirs to better prepare the country for dry spells.
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