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Thailand is struggling with a historic drought that has affected nearly 30 of Thailand’s 77 provinces. Climate experts have blamed El Niño as well as climate change for the lack of rainfall, which has left the country’s canals, reservoirs, and dams with record-low water levels.
For some of the nation's farmers, the arid climate, coupled with last year’s short-lived monsoon season, has forced them to switch from water-intensive rice crops to more drought-resistant ones, such as beans. But these too are failing. Meanwhile, for the country’s urbanites, little has changed. In the large, northern city of Chiang Mai, for instance, there were no signs of drought as people celebrated Songkran, a popular holiday marking the Thai new year in April, by pouring water on Buddha statues and over each others’ hands to symbolize the washing away of sins. In fact, in the lead up to the holiday, Chiang Mai’s nightclubs threw pre-Songkran events for Thai youths, such as water gun and water balloon fights, even as the country’s farmers and rural villagers were being told to ration their water.
CORY WRIGHT is a photographer based in Australia.