SEVERE drought has left more than 10 million people across China without an adequate supply of drinking water, Xinhua reported on Wednesday, quoting sources from the state Flood Control and Drought Prevention headquarters in Beijing.
The drought, which has dried up more than 16 million hectares of farmland and impeded seasonal agricultural activities, prompted high-level provincial officials from the eight major grain production bases – Hebei, Shaanxi, Shandong, Jilin, He-nan, Sichuan, Shansi and Gansu – to gather in Jinan, capital of East China’s Shandong Province, on Monday to discuss ways to deal with the plight.
At the meeting, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu urged local government officials to take effective measures to deal with water shortages during the spring ploughing season. Hui said that crop yields could be affected negatively, considering that anti-drought efforts were likely to be hindered in parts of the country as a result of persistent drought and falling water levels in many rivers, which has resulted in lower reservoir reserves.
He stressed that anti-drought measures required timely financial, material and technical support to aid farmers, and water saving and rationing should be strictly carried out.
In Shandong, one of the most “thirsty” provinces in China, the drought had dried up more than one million hectares of farmland, leaving 6.25 million people without adequate supplies of drinking water, while 50 large enterprises had to shut down temporarily due to the water shortage, said acting governor Han Yuqun.
Located on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, Gansu also suffered a severe drought this spring, causing the water level on the upper reaches of the Yellow River to drop to a 50-year low.
The water shortage spread further to southern China, where the Yangtze River’s water level dropped to the lowest point in 16 years.
Furthermore, environmental pollution caused by inadequate sewage treatment has aggravated the country’s water crisis.
To ease the shortage, thousands of water-saving wells were built in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Water-saving irrigation facilities had been widely promoted in areas along the Yellow River, said experts with the Water Resources Ministry.
The South-to-North Water Transfer Project, which began in December, aims to divert water from the Yangtze River to China’s parched northern regions, throwing a lifeline to the fast-growing economy. – People’s Daily
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