Lengthy drought leaves 4m in need of more water

Updated: 2011-08-02 15:11

By Qiu Bo and Yang Jun (China Daily)

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Lengthy drought leaves 4m in need of more water

A farmer looks anxiously on Monday at peanut crops that have been withered by a serious drought in Yantang village, the Yinjiang Tujia and Miao autonomous county in Southwest China's Guizhou province. [Photo / China Daily] 

GUIYANG - A lingering drought has caused water shortages for 4.28 million people in China, the country's drought relief authority said on Monday.

The high temperatures and lack of rain that persisted throughout July have resulted in drought in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou and Hunan, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on its website.

By Sunday, 4.22 million hectares of arable land had been affected by the drought, the statement said. Some 3.88 million head of livestock suffered from water shortages, it added.

The statement said Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu has asked for more support for relief work in the drought-hit southern regions to guarantee supplies of water for people and agriculture.

By Monday, 39 counties and regions in Guizhou were suffering from severe drought, said Yu Junwei, spokesman for the Guizhou provincial meteorological bureau.

Yu said his bureau had launched a level-3 emergency response and further details about drought will be released on Tuesday.

Guizhou's civil affairs authorities said in a report quoted by Xinhua News Agency that by Sunday, the drought in June in the province's 57 counties had affected 8.37 million people and 1.82 million people had been short of water.

Qiu Feng, spokesman for the provincial drought relief headquarters, said his office had carried out a range of measures including sending more water pumps and delivering drinking water to the villages where water is badly needed.

Qiu said the drought in Guizhou arrived a month earlier than in normal years.

"By the end of July, the rainfall was only around 30 percent of the average rate year-on-year," he said. "It's still hard to predict how soon the drought crisis will ease."

By Sunday, more than 60,000 people in the Qiannan Bouyei and Miao autonomous prefecture had been affected by the drought, according to Jin Tingzheng, an official from the local drought relief office of the prefecture.

In the prefecture's Libo county, the drought had ruined 200 hectares of crops, while 6,000 hectares of crops had been damaged to some extent.

Zhang Honglong, the chief agronomist for the local government of Anshun, one of the worst-hit regions, said all local officials have been dispatched to guide the anti-drought work. In Anshun, 116,000 people were suffering from water shortages, he said.

"We haven't seen a single drop of rain here since June," he said, insisting the ongoing drought will not fade soon.

"We lack the funds to help the farmers to harvest their crops and we hope media reports will attract the governments' attention.

Yan Fagang, a 55-year-old farmer in Jinguan village, Dongtun county of Anshun, said: "The lack of rain has lasted for at least two months and all the crops have died."

Yan said his neighbors had to look for wells to find freshwater.

He said they had to pump the water in the early morning every day. "Or it will turn cloudy by noon."

The provincial civil affairs authorities said the drought had caused direct economic losses of 1.82 billion yuan by the end of July.

Chen Shanshan and Zhang Yu contributed to this story.



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