Thousands of ha of rice and other crops in the northern Central Highlands can be seriously damaged because of a lack of rainfall.

In Kon Tum province, nearly 1,600 ha of rice can be affected, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In Sa Thay district alone, 100 ha of rice fields have been left vacant or switched to other short-term crops because of a shortage of rain.

When the dry season began, Sa Thay authorities implemented several measures to control drought, including dredging irrigation canals and ditches, and upgrading irrigation works.

Hundreds of wells in Sa Thay's Sa Son and Sa Binh communes have also dried up.

In Gia Lai province, drought occurred in Chu Prong, Chu Pah and Chu Puh districts and Pleiku City , affecting at least 1,000 ha of short-term crops and more than 3,000 ha of coffee, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Farmers are now transporting water from other places to irrigate their coffee tree fields in Ia Grai district, the province's major coffee cultivation area, which receives irrigation water from the province's major water supply lake, Bien Ho Lake .

Provinces south of Tay Nguyen like Dak Nong and Dak Lak have not faced a water shortage, but thousands of ha of crops are expected to have a difficult dry season, according to authorities of southern Tay Nguyen provinces.

Nguyen Van Toan, deputy director of the Dac Nong province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "It is estimated that at the end of next month, the province will have about 500 ha of rice in Krong No and Cu Chut districts facing a lack of water."

More than 10,000 ha of coffee in Dak Mil, Cu Jut, Dak R'Lap and Tuy Duc districts face a water shortage, he said.

The Dak Lak provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is surveying the drought situation in the province.

This year, Dak Lak planted more than 4,000 ha of rice than what was originally planned.

If severe drought occurs, the rice fields will be affected first, according to the Dak Lak provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In Kon Tum province, the water levels of Dak Bla and Po Ko rivers, which supply most irrigation and daily water for the province, have fallen by 40 percent compared to the same period of previous years.

Nguyen Ngoc Thuan, head of the Kon Tum City Economic Bureau in Kon Tum province, said most irrigation works, reservoirs, lakes, dams, rivers and springs in Kon Tum City were not able to supply water.

"Many reservoirs and dams have dried up," he said.

The Kon Tum City People's Committee has asked Communal People's Committees and co-operatives to try to save the rice fields.

Tran Trung Thanh, deputy director of the Tay Nguyen Region Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre, said the water levels of rivers and streams in the north of Tay Nguyen region are 0.4-0.6 metres lower compared to the same period last year.

The water level of Yaly reservoir, the largest hydroelectric reservoir in Tay Nguyen, is only six metres above the safety level for operation of the Yaly Hydroelectric Power Plant, the lowest level over the past 50 years.

During the last rainy season, hydroelectric reservoirs in Tay Nguyen lacked enough water to store so they did not release water each time, Thanh said.

Thanh said the amount of rainfall in the Tay Nguyen area is expected to be very low, and hot weather will continue./.