A drought is threatening supplies of drinking water to more than
14 million people in China, a national environmental protection
official said yesterday.
The drought has affected 16.3 million hectares of farmland in
China's northern, northeastern and southwestern regions, said Zhang
Zhitong, executive director of the State Flood Control and Drought
The affected farmland is 36.3 percent more than would be
expected on average, Zhang said. The drinking water shortage is
also affecting 11.55 million head of livestock, he added.
Weather forecasters say there is no sign of the drought breaking
in most parts of northern and southwestern regions in the near
Beijing, with a permanent population of 15.36 million and more
than 4 million transient residents, is suffering its worst drought
in 50 years, with only 17 millimeters of rainfall reported in the
past four months which is 63 percent down from the same period last
year. Local authorities have warned that the lack of rain is
already challenging the city's water supply.
Beijing has suffered drought for seven consecutive years. The
average annual rainfall between 1999 and 2005 was only 70 percent
of the average since records began.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters
yesterday ordered local governments to take "all possible" measures
to combat the drought.
However, in many parts of southern China the situation could not
be more different on account of recent heavy rainfall.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing yesterday, a Ministry
of Civil Affairs official said a series of natural disasters caused
by unfavorable climate had resulted in heavy losses of lives and
Li Baojun, an official with the ministry's Department of
Disaster Relief, said six provinces and municipalities--Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou along with Hubei and Chongqing had
borne the brunt of the bad weather.
Li said recent excessive rainfall in the south had caused
frequent disasters such as flooding and debris flows.
In southwest China's Guizhou Province natural disasters have
claimed 22 lives in the past 20 days.
According to the Guizhou Bureau of Civil Affairs, from April 21
to May 10, more than 2.64 million people have been affected by
disasters with 98 injured and five missing.
(China Daily May 12, 2006)