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Southwest drought inflicts water shortage on millions

(China Daily)

16:28, August 27, 2011

Residents in Qingshan village in Qujing city, Southwest China's Yunnan province, wait for trucks carrying water on Thursday. More than 3.2 million people in Qujing are running short of drinking water after the city was hit by its most severe drought since 1961.(Yang Zongyou / Xinhua)

GUIYANG - A severe and persistent drought in Southwest China's Guizhou province has led to a drinking water shortage affecting more than 5.47 million people, local authorities said.

Local governments have induced artificial rain, drilled wells and pumped groundwater to combat the shortage. By Thursday, their efforts had eased the water shortage for 4.4 million people, according to a statement released on Friday by the provincial department of civil affairs.

The drought, which began in early July, dried up 479 reservoirs and 349 rivers and devastated crops.

The Guizhou provincial government has allotted 60 million yuan ($9.38 million) to finding and tapping into groundwater. An additional 40 million yuan will be allocated to drill wells for daily use and irrigation needs.

The drought has severely affected 87 of the province's 88 cities and counties, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said in a statement on Thursday.

The province's rainfall last month was 70 percent below average, leaving more than 5.5 million people short of drinking water, the headquarters said. Its precipitation in August was also reported to be below average.

By Thursday, nearly 1.1 million hectares of crops were affected, and crops could not be harvested on 22,000 hectares. About 3 million livestock animals had insufficient water.

According to the provincial meteorological bureau, no rain is expected in Guizhou for the time being.

In neighboring Yunnan province, high temperatures and drought have dried up more than 60 rivers and nearly 300 reservoirs, according to a statement from the provincial government.

More than 1.5 million people in the province have insufficient water, it said.

The drought is also wreaking havoc in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where approximately 150,000 people have been left without a steady supply of drinking water.

The region's weather modification bureau made several attempts to artificially increase precipitation during a rainstorm on Tuesday, and most of the region received moderate to heavy rain as a result.

However, local authorities have warned that the drought will continue through next week.

The central government has allocated more than 2 billion yuan to support drought-fighting efforts in these areas.

On Wednesday, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters sent work teams to the drought-ravaged provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Sichuan and the Chongqing municipality to assist in relief operations.

According to data from that agency, the drought had affected a combined 5.86 million hectares of crops in those regions by Wednesday, leaving a total of 12 million people and 9.17 million livestock animals short of drinking water.

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