Australian climate experts believe the Philippines is at risk of a drought caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon this year.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the likelihood of El Niño forming in 2017 has risen, pushing the bureau’s ‘El Niño-Southern Oscillation’ (ENSO) status from “neutral” to “watch”.
A statement issued by the bureau said: “Seven of eight international models surveyed by the bureau indicate steady warming in the central tropical Pacific Ocean over the next six months. Six models suggest El Niño thresholds may be reached by July 2017.”
From late 2015 until June 2016, the Philippines experienced one of the most severe El Niño droughts on record. The agriculture sector took a serious hit, with the production of staple crops such as rice at low levels.
The Philippines suffered a similar drought in 1998 when 70 percent of the country was affected and four billion pesos worth of crops were damaged. The country’s crucial agriculture sector contracted by 6.4 percent that year.
El Niño in the Philippines is characterised by delayed onset or early termination of the rainy season.