Water, water, everywhere but ...

08:32, March 30, 2010      

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Lack of government spending in water conservancy projects exacerbates drought. Peng Yining and Li Yingqing in Kunming, and Hu Yongqi in Beijing report.

With about 1,000 rivers and lakes, Yunnan ranks third in China when it comes to water resources. It also wins bronze for its annual average rainfall. So in a region with such natural abundance, why are millions continuing to thirst as the southwest suffers its worst drought in 100 years?

For some, the answer is easy: It is because of this wealth of resources.

"In the past, we always thought Yunnan was rich in water resources, so the authorities ignored the importance of water conservation projects, particularly in rural areas," said Zhang Pengxiang, a high-ranking publicity official for Shilin county. "We always expected the rainfall to provide all our irrigation water. Now there's a drought, the losses have been huge."

Water conservation has very much been an afterthought for many in the province, leading to a lack of investment in preparing for the disaster, say analysts.

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