Severity of SW China Drought Worsens

By Tang Xiangyang
Published: 2010-03-19

Five provinces in Southwest China, including Yunnan and Sichuan, have been hit by a severe drought and some areas have not received any rainfall since Autumn 2009.

As of March 16, 6.45 million hectares of farmland has been affected by the drought and more than twenty million people are facing water shortages, according to the latest statistics provided by the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, a government body which operates under the authority of the central Ministry of Water Resources.

The five regions that have been most seriously affected by the ongoing drought are Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Chongqing Municipality.

In Yunnan, 5.969 million people are effected by water shortages and another 3.31 million are being provided with government assistance.

An official from Yunnan's Bureau of Meteorology was quoted as saying that "such a severe drought will only occur once in a hundred years."

Rainfall in Yunnan during the period from September to March is down 58.8 percent when compared to the same period last year.

This lack of rain has effected 85 percent of the province's farming land and experts predict that this year's agricultural output will be down by over 50 percent on the previous year.

It's predicted that one quarter of the total population of Yunnan province will not have access to an adequate supply of drinking water by May and that the direct losses to the province's agricultural sector could top ten billion yuan.

As hydroelectricity plays a vital role in Southwest China, lack of rain has also led to an increased reliance on other sources of power.

However, reports from Sichuan show that coal reserves at some power plants are running low.

"Based on the present situation, (the coal reserves of our company) may be expleted by April," an employee at one local power station told journalists.

Some local cities are being forced to reduce electricity consumption by limiting supply.

Links and Sources
Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters: Official Site (Chinese)
China Meteorological Administration: Severe drought hits SW China
: images (Chinese)