More than five million people are now short of drinking water
in southwestern China's Sichuan Province as a result of a worsening
drought, local government sources said on Friday.
Water shortages have affected 5.5 million people, 6.3 million
livestock and 560,000 hectares of crop land across the province,
said Governor Jiang Jufeng at an emergency drought relief
The drought has caused a direct economic loss of nearly 300
million yuan (US$38 million), Jiang said.
In the worst-hit areas, residents are having their drinking
water delivered to them by government trucks.
Most of the province received less than 5 millimeters of
rainfall in February.
Xiao Huarun, a farmer in a mountainous village in Suining City,
150 kilometers east of provincial capital Chengdu, say dozens of
fellow villagers have to rely on one well for drinking water. It
has nearly dried up, he says.
"Water shortages have also seriously affected my rape crops -
the yield will be down by at least 30 percent this year," said the
Last summer, Xiao's paddy field of about 700 square meters only
produced 25 kilograms of rice as a result of the most severe
drought in half a century which hit both Sichuan and neighboring
Chongqing Municipality. In a normal year, the field can produce 500
kilograms of rice, according to Xiao.
The local governments are encouraging farmers like Xiao to plant
other drought-resistant crops such as the corn and potato instead
Water conservation facilities in the province are only storing
5.8 billion cubic meters, down 1.7 billion cubic meters from normal
Governments of the province have earmarked 300 million yuan to
help residents deal with drinking water shortages and irrigate
Weather forecasts show that the province will see no significant
rainfall before the end of March.
Drought is also affecting other Chinese provinces like Guizhou,
Hainan, and northeastern Liaoning, causing water shortages for
millions of people.
(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2007)