FAR FROM OVER. More provinces will be affected by the effects of the ongoing El Niño dry spell this April, state weather bureau PAGASA warned Tuesday.
PAGASA climatologist Rusy Abastillas said forecasts indicate that almost the entire country will experience below normal rainfall amounts.
This will cause more provinces to experience drought or dry spell.
As of March, 23 provinces are currently experiencing drought, defined by PAGASA as three consecutive months of rainfall that is below normal (at least 60% lower than the average).
Most of these are provinces in Mindanao, including Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao Del Norte, Lanao Del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Saranggani, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao Del Norte, Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Also included in the list are Negros Oriental and Siquijor in Visayas, and Palawan in Luzon.
Meanwhile, 11 provinces are battling with dry spell, characterized by two consecutive months of below normal rainfall.
Among these are Compostela Valley, Agusan Del Sur, Agusan Del Norte, Bohol, Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Rizal and Occidental Mindoro.
The Philippines has been struggling with El Niño since December.
The climate cycle has affected food production, particularly in the conflict-wracked south, home to the country's poorest and where more than half of the population is reliant on agriculture.
Just last week, drought-hit farmers and activists mounted a protest in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, leading to a bloody clash with police forces. -- With a report from Dennis Datu, dzMM; Reuters