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SW China on the precipice of catastrophe

Posted by feww on March 20, 2010

Worst Ever Drought in SW China is Getting Even Worse!

The numbers of people and livestock short of drinking water in SW China have risen from 11 million and 2 million respectively just 5 days ago to more that 20 million people and 12 million  livestock today.

The deadly drought is now spreading to other parts of China including the northwest, north and northeast China.

Up to 60 million people throughout  China are now affected by severe drought, and experts say it can only get worse.


A massive dust storm swept across eastern China on March 12, 2010. The dust appears to have been transported by winds from the west, which is consistent with soil erosion caused by the drought. Source NASA. Click image to enlarge.

Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in south China, one of the country’s poorest areas is suffering its worst drought in 58 years ever, with only 2.2 mm of rain since October 2009, People’s Daily reported.

“Since last September, rainfall in Guangxi, as well as neighboring Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, has fallen to the lowest levels since 1952, said the China Meteorological Administration. Coupled with persistent high temperatures, the lack of rain has resulted in a severe drought that is affecting about 11 million people.”

That report was released 5 days ago. The ongoing drought, which has lasted 3 harvests, has affected more than 6.5 million hectares of farmland across the country, today’s media report said.

“Relief work is becoming difficult because the dry conditions have lasted for such a long time, reducing available water sources.”

“Southwest China is facing the most severe situation. Nearly 90 per cent of China’s drought-affected farmland is in Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Sichuan and Chongqing. And more than half of that is in Yunnan province.” Zhang Xu, Dep. Director-General of Drough Relief HQ, was reported as saying.

“We should detail a water supply plan, consolidate water management, economize our use of water, and use every method to ensure water supply.”


Farmers in China’s Yunnan province face a bleak future, if the drought continues. Image captured from CCTV news. Image may be subject to copyright. Click image to enlarge.

The drought has affected the last three harvest seasons. Experts say the hot and dry weather will continue in southwest China for the foreseeable future.

These conditions in the region are described as the “worst  in a century.” But no one really knows how bad the worst conditions might have been then.

The government is urging people to use water sparingly. The irony of it being that there is NO water to use, sparingly or not. The authorities were also quoted as saying that the “choice of whether to use water for people or farming is becoming more difficult.”

Surely, someone must have mistranslated that last line. They couldn’t possibly have meant that. Could they?

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3 Responses to “SW China on the precipice of catastrophe”

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