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Experts expect drought to last until May

By Jin Zhu  (China Daily)

08:58, April 03, 2013

A girl stands in a almost dried-up well in Shuitang village, Weining county of Southwest China's Guizhou province on March 16, 2013. (Photo/Xinhua)

The severe drought in parts of northwestern and southwestern China is likely to continue into May because of the hot, dry weather, authorities said.

Higher temperatures and low rainfall are forecast for those regions this month and next, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on Tuesday.

By Tuesday, about 6.61 million people, mainly in Yunnan, Gansu, Henan, Sichuan and Hubei provinces, did not have adequate drinking water because of the drought, which has also affected 7.3 million hectares of farmland, the agency said.

"At present, the drought in the whole country is light compared with previous years," said Zhang Xu, an official at the agency, at a news conference in Beijing. "But it is severe in some provinces, such as Yunnan and Sichuan."

People in Chongqing play mahjong on a dried-up riverbed on Monday. Many riverbeds in the Chongqing section of the Jialing River have become places of amusement for local people. CHEN CHAO / CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Zhou Xuewen, who is in charge of project planning at the Ministry of Water Resources, said that the weather and lack of efficient reservoirs are the main reasons for the continued drought in parts of China's southwest in recent years.

China launched a plan to construct water conservancy projects in Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi and Chongqing to improve water storage capacity in 2010.

"The construction of large- and mid-sized reservoirs always takes three to four years, so there will be some wait before those projects can be used for drought relief," Zhou said. Authorities' top concern now is guaranteeing a sufficient supply of clean drinking water, he said.

Since the drought has not struck the major grain-producing areas, it will have only a limited effect on grain production, he added.

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