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UPDATED: March 26, 2010 NO. 13 APRIL 1, 2010
A Long Dry Spell
A severe drought lingers in south and southwest China, resulting in huge economic losses and a hard life for millions of people

The ministries of finance, agriculture, civil affairs and water resources have appropriated more than 370 million yuan ($54.4 million) to combat the drought.

The funds are to be used to purchase drinking water, equipment and supplies for urgent water construction projects.

More than 4,000 troops of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force (PAPF) in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi and Chongqing have been mobilized to help rural residents with water supplies.

The PAPF detachment in Yunnan's Yuxi City has supplied more than 17 tons of its water reserve to 176 households in the province. In Sichuan, PAPF troops used their machinery to help pump underground water.

In Guangxi, PAPF troops transported water in trucks to 13 remote villages which are home to more than 7,000 farmers and 6,000 livestock.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said local authorities in Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi had built 3,092 water diversion systems and 58,600 irrigation works, and dug 11,200 wells.

During a three-day trip to Yunnan on March 19-21, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for "intensified and consistent efforts" to relieve the drought and help affected people overcome difficulties.

Other effects

The drought has also caused the prices of goods to soar, affecting much of the food chain, including vegetables, flowers, tea, herbs, fruit, rubber, sugar and grain.

"The total trading volume of flowers has decreased by 30 to 40 percent this spring, and the wholesale prices of flowers have jumped," said Zhang Li, Vice Manager of Kunming International Flower Auction Trading Center Co. in Yunnan, China's largest fresh flower production and export base.

The Yunnan Flower Association said about 31,000 hectares, or 80 percent of the province's total flower fields, were short of irrigation. About 10,853 hectares were damaged and 1,627 hectares did not deliver harvests.

The drought has incurred 854 million yuan ($125 million) in direct economic loss in the sector, statistics from the association show.

Yunnan provides nearly 80 percent of all fresh flower sales in the domestic market. Many cities across the country have reported nearly a 100-percent price rise and a remarkable drop in supplies this year.

The average wholesale price for a rose at Kunming's Dounan Flower Market, China's largest flower wholesale center, hit 2 yuan ($0.29) in the first two months of the year—double the price at the same period of last year.

In Beijing, the prices of flowers such as roses and lilies have risen by about 30 percent.

Yunnan's drought has also affected the price of the popular spring tea Pu'er, of which the province is the main growing and exporting base.

"The production of spring tea in Pu'er this year is expected to drop by 20-30 percent," said Li Shuyan, a local official in charge of the tea industry.

The drought has impacted 200,000 hectares of tea-growing land, which account for 60 percent of the total in the province, the Kunming-based Yunnan Information Daily reported on March 18.

Official figures show wholesale prices for Class-A tea at the Chayuan Palace Tea Distribution Center have reached 50-65 yuan ($7.32- $9.52) per kg, up by 8-10 yuan ($1.17-$1.46) over the previous year.

In addition, drought also poses a threat to tourism development.

In Guangxi's Guilin, a most popular tourist attraction, the Lijiang River is suffering from its lowest water level in recent memory, forcing tourism companies to cancel more than half of the regular sightseeing boat rides on the river, China National Radio said on March 18.

In Guizhou's Anshun, the Huangguoshu Waterfall, also known as Yellow Fruit Waterfall, the largest waterfall in China and in all of Asia, is facing the worst water scarcity in its history as the city is hit by a severe drought that has dried up 90 percent of the city's rivers and reservoirs.

The water volume of the waterfall has plunged 75 percent compared to its regular levels, said the Huangguoshu Tourism Co. Ltd., which runs the waterfall.

The drought also has put a damper on the Dai people in Yunnan, who have been asked to use water sprayers instead of buckets to drench each other during their annual Water Splashing Festival on April 13-16.

Facts and Figures

As of March 23, drought affected 7.6 million hectares of farmland nationwide. More than 22.7 million people were short of drinking water across the country.


About 7.42 million people and 4.86 million livestock were thirsting for rain; more than 2 million hectares of planted crops were affected.

Direct agricultural economic losses reached 17 billion yuan ($2.5 billion).


Some 5.57 million people suffered a shortage of drinking water. About 830,000 hectares of farmland, accounting for 60 percent of the summer harvest, were affected.

Direct agricultural economic losses were more than 2.8 billion yuan ($410 million).


About 8.29 million people were affected and 1.85 million of them lacked drinking water. More than 510,000 hectares of farmland were affected.

Direct agricultural economic losses were 1.38 billion yuan ($202 million).


A total of 2.19 million people and 1.11 million livestock were short of drinking water; 751,000 hectares of farmland in all the cities and counties of the autonomous region were affected.

Direct agricultural economic losses were 466 million yuan ($68.22 million).


About 940,000 people and 420,000 livestock were short of drinking water.

More than 180,000 hectares of farmland were affected.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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