PUTRAJAYA: With Malaysia bracing for spells of hot and dry weather due to the El Nino phenomenon, the National Disaster Management Agency has set up a dedicated working group to manage the situation.
The agency’s director-general Datuk Zaitun Ab Samad said the working group would meet periodically to monitor the hot and dry situation and coordinate immediate action.
“The hot and dry spell caused by El Nino is expected to hit us in the first quarter of the year.
“Its impact could potentially lead to low water dam levels, forest fires and haze.
“With that, our agency has activated a working group that will be dedicated to tackle this hot and dry season.
“The group will be made up of members of the state and district-level disaster management committees, which are led by the state secretaries and district officers,” said Zaitun at a press conference here after chairing a high-level committee meeting at the Prime Minister’s Department here yesterday.
She said the high-level meeting had discussed several things including banning open burning during the dry season, if required.
“We have also informed the respective state governments to identify locations that are expected to face water supply shortage early, so that it could prepare ahead of time before things become worse,” said Zaitun.
Malaysian Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail, who was also at the press conference, said the El Nino phenomenon was predicted to hit its peak this month.
“The last time the country faced an El Nino phenomenon of this high intensity was in 1997 and 1998, where temperatures reached 40.1°C.
“The phenomenon will gradually weaken from February to June, when conditions will be back to normal.
“But the impact of El Nino, such as dry spells, forest fires and haze would be felt until April in Malaysia,” she said.