About 7 million people in rural areas, mostly in the northern parts of the country, are suffering from water shortages because of widespread drought. More than 5.4 million head of livestock and 13.8 million hectares of farmland have been affected, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
The central government has earmarked 100 million yuan (US$12.3 million) to help alleviate the problems caused by the drought.
But relief might be on its way with rainfall forecast for parts of northwest and north China in 10 days, said Li Zhangjun of the China Meteorological Administration.
He hoped the rain would help alleviate the drought, which has affected areas since the start of spring, stretching from the southern parts of north China to provinces between the Yellow and the Huaihe rivers.
The drought-affected regions include the provinces of Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong and Yunnan, as well as the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Over the past month there's been just 22.5 millimeters of rain throughout China, which is 20 percent less than average.
In Hebei, for example, recent rain only averaged 20.2 millimeters, down 60 percent on figures from a normal year. The figure was the lowest ever recorded for that period since 1951.
(China Daily April 5, 2006)