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Severe Drought Hits South China
Southeast China's coastal provinces and parts of southwest China are continuing to suffer from a lack of rain and high temperatures.

The government in south China's Guangdong Province has allocated 12 million yuan (US$1.4 million) in emergency funds to fight the rarely seen persistent drought conditions that have plagued the province since last winter, according to reports reaching Beijing yesterday.

Only 4.7 billion cubic meters of water, about 28 percent of the previous year's volume, have been stored in Guangdong's reservoirs so far this month as a result of the lack of rainfall, high evaporation rates and the consumption of water for spring sowing.

In Guangdong, since October only 289 millimeters of rain have fallen, or less than 56 percent of the average rainfall for the same period in previous years.

As a result, farmers cannot transplant rice seedlings in many paddy fields in eastern and western parts of Guangdong because there is no water to irrigate the transplanted rice seedlings.

So far, the drought has threatened more than 400,000 hectares (988,400 acres) of crops, leaving at least 1.6 million residents facing a drinking water shortage and drying up 1,300 reservoirs across the province.

Mobilizing all the province's forces to combat the drought, Guangdong authorities are preparing to try artificial rainfall measures when weather conditions are suitable.

In southwest China's Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality, special emergency loans have been allocated for farmers to buy irrigation equipment and diesel oil to keep the soil moist.

It has rained or snowed less than normal in most parts of China since the end of last year.

North China is also experiencing its third year of consecutive catastrophic droughts in its north, northeast and northwest provinces, water experts said.

Some farmers may face temporary grain shortages when the old crop is consumed before the new crop is harvested as a result of the effects of the drought, they said.

Last month, the central government earmarked 100 million yuan (US$12 million) in special subsidies for drought relief for 15.9 million people and 15.2 million livestock in north China.

Much of the money is scheduled to be given to needy farmers in the coming days, said officials with the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

To alleviate the grain shortage, governments in Henan and Shanxi provinces are opening granaries to lend grain to farmers while reducing or exempting them from some of their agricultural taxes.

By the end of last month, the drought had scorched more than 21 million hectares (51.891 million acres) of farmland, or at least 16 percent of China's total, statistics show.

(China Daily May 9, 2002)

Taiwan Water Supplies Cut in the Wake of Drought
North China Battles Water Shortage in Drought
Spring Drought Looms for China
China Makes Early Preparations for Possible Floods, Drought
Dangerous Reservoirs to Undergo Upgrading
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