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Drought Hits 7 Million Farmers; Rain Forecast
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About 7 million people in rural areas, mostly in the northern parts of the country, are suffering from a water shortage because of widespread drought.

More than 5.4 million heads of livestock and 13.8 million hectares of farmland have also 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.

Relief might be on its way though, with rainfall forecast for parts of northwest and north China in 10 days, said Li Zhangjun, with the China Meteorological Administration.

He hopes the rain will help ease the prevailing drought, which has ravaged 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 Mongolian Autonomous Region.

Over the past month, there was only 22.5 millimeters of precipitation throughout China, 20 percent less than an average year.

In Hebei, for example, precipitation only averaged 20.2 millimeters, down 60 percent compared to figures from a normal year. The figure was the lowest ever recorded for that time period since 1951.

(China Daily April 5, 2006)



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