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Drought leaves millions facing water shortage

(China Daily)

08:27, August 29, 2011

GUIDING, Guizhou - Chen Canchao, a 61-year-old farmer from Xinhu, a remote village in Southwest China's Guizhou province, has been forced to leave her hometown for the first time in her life.

A farmer checks the bottom of a dried well in Leizhuang village in Guizhou province on Saturday. Severe drought has dried up 479 reservoirs and 349 rivers in the province, leaving more than 5.47 million people short of drinking water.(China Daily Photo)

Chen and her husband are working in Xinba town, Guiding county, after all their crops failed because of the drought.

"I've never left the village before in my life, but the family can't survive now the drought has destroyed all our rice and corn," she said.

The provincial drought relief headquarters issued a statement over the weekend, saying the drought which started in late June, has affected 87 of the province's 88 counties and dried up 479 reservoirs and 349 rivers. More than 5.47 million people face a shortage of drinking water.

Rice, corn and tobacco are the three main types of crops grown in Guiding, and the drought has blighted more than 90 percent of the rice and corn in the five worst-hit towns, said Song Linglin, an official from the county's water resources bureau.

"Farmers who grow tobacco at least have something to exchange for food, but those who only grow rice and corn have to find other solutions," Song said.

Chen Xian and her husband from Shuichong village, Xinba town, acquired 200,000 yuan ($31,400) in loans from the local bank and invested it in tobacco plants, but the drought has ruined her harvest.

The leaves were only about 30-centimeters long, much smaller than the 1-meter leaves she could expect in normal years.

"I even don't know how to pay my workers," she said.

In Dexin town, also severely hit by the drought, more than 402 hectares of crops - about half the cultivated fields - will not produce even a single grain, said Chen Wenyang, a local official.

"I have lived here my whole life, and I've never seen such severe drought since 1972," said 55-year-old Ding Fuxiang, the Party secretary of the town's Fengshou village. A 700-square meter pool that villagers used to wash clothes and feed tame animals has dried up.
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