Monday, February 15, 2010

Drought brings disaster to Yunnan

The worst drought in 50 years is leaving millions of people and animals without drinking water in Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region according to recent reports in the China Daily. And visiting the region it is all too evident that a lack of rain is having a devastating effect. Crops are drying up and fields are turning to dust bowls.

In the small village of Shiping, lakes are well below normal levels and dead fish can be seen lying along the banks. Many areas have cracked up as the soil becomes parched and it is virtually impossible to grow anything. Chilies hang dry and unusable on plants and other fruit crops are failing. 

The drought relief department in Yunnan has declared a red alert drought emergency for the area, according to reports. But declaring an emergency will do little to alleviate the problems faced by farmers. Yunnan's rainfall since last July has been just over 200 mm, lower than the perennial average and a record low. As well as low rainfall, the province is also experiencing record high temperatures. Average temperatures have been nearly 2 C above normal.

The prolonged drought also affected Guangxi where 240,000 people and 110,000 heads of livestock have been left without adequate drinking water. The mountainous areas in western and northwestern parts of the region have lacked rainfall since August last year, a spokesman for the regional flood control and drought relief headquarters said. "Local governments have been sending water trucks to villages that suffer severe shortages," the spokesman told Xinhua News Agency.

The central government has also sent emergency teams to oversee relief work in southern China, where 3.39 million people are short of drinking water. The drought has affected 1.14 million hectares of crops, resulting in direct economic losses of more than 3.6 billion yuan ($527 million) in the agriculture sector in Yunnan and Guangxi.

The central government has also earmarked 50 million yuan in emergency funds to help the province and region restore agricultural production and ensure that people and livestock have adequate drinking water.

tvnewswatch, Kaiyuan, Yunnan, China

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