Drought Risk Reduction in Malaysia: Actions and Issues


This is the summary of the country drought risk reduction assessment done as a part of the JICA-ASEAN project on integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into institutional and policy processes (CN 20). There is heavy reliance of the government on drought relief leading to drought relief dependency among the farmers in Malaysia. This approach has its weaknesses such as untimely response, poor coordination, and poorly targeted to drought-stricken areas. Farmers in the drought prone areas follow low efficient irrigation practices and the crop diversification in the drought prone areas away from high water consuming paddy has not been successful despite efforts by the farmer associations which has been largely blamed on the relief dependency among farmers and reliance on relief by the governments. Though the farmer associations handle part of the water-related issues, they are still not well aligned and capable of dealing with water and hence there is a need to formulate water user associations which will bring a focused approach to the issue of water use in agriculture. In addition, the irrigation canals are largely unlined leading to heavy seepage and percolation losses and low irrigation efficiency. In part, due to the old farming community and heavy reliance on traditional practices, livelihood diversification has not received the attention in drought-prone areas of Malaysia. Promotion of high efficient irrigation systems such as sprinkler and drip have also been negligible which needs to be promoted through state support and farmer associations. There is a favorable opinion among farmer associations to promote agricultural insurance which can be an incentive for the government to promote agricultural insurance in the near future.