KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has begun to rush water supply to 124 villages as the El Nino-induced dry spell started to take hold, with wells and lakes drying up.
The Department of Civil Defence and other agencies sent water to eight districts in the past 24 hours amid reports of crop failures due to the dry days.
The move came a day after Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman ordered all district officers to prepare for situations such as haze and drought.
Department director Col Mulliadi Al-Hamdi Ladin said staff were working with agencies such as the Fire and Rescue Department to provide water supply to the affected villages in Tuaran, Kota Belud, Keningau, Sook, Beaufort, Membakut, Menumbok and Kuala Penyu.
“An average of 100 cubic meters of water is being sent to each village,” he said, adding that more than 30 reports of crop failure in Kota Belud, which is Sabah’s rice bowl district, had been received.
“Wells and lakes are drying up. We are doing all we can to deal with it,” he said.
Mulliadi said the department was also waiting for more equipment like boats and lorries.
Firemen here, meanwhile, are battling at least 20 bushfires a day throughout Sabah.
Sabah Fire and Rescue Department director Nordin Pauzi said firemen had to be on standby at all times as the number of bushfires was increasing.
He said the number of open burning cases, including forest and bush fires, jumped from 188 in January to 431 between Feb 1 and 24.
Most of them occurred near housing and farm areas, he added.
Meteorologists are expecting rain next month but anxiety remains that the drought would prolong.