BEIJING - The drought plaguing southwestern China would continue and the situation was looking quite grave for this month as less rain and higher temperatures were forecast for the region, a senior Chinese official said.
Students wait in line for water at a local school in Xundian autonomous county, in Southwest China's Yunnan province on March 31, 2010. [Photo/CFP]
Water shortages were likely to increase in April, and consequently meeting the water demand for people's daily uses and agricultural production would be more challenging, said Chen Lei, deputy chief of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (SFDH).
Chen, also minister of water resources, urged sustained efforts to guarantee safe drinking water and find underground water sources to increase supply, according to a statement posted on the SFDH website Saturday.
Ensuring people's daily water supplies was the priority, he said while adding that increasing water supply for spring planting was also necessary.
As of Wednesday, the drought, which hit southwestern China last year, has left 19.4 million people with water shortages and affected 97.2 million mu (6.48 million hectares) of farmland in provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the city of Chongqing.
"The climate environment is very abnormal this year with increasing complicated and uncertain factors," Chen said, warning that there was increasing possibility that the drought-affected areas might also suffer from flooding in the future. However, he did not elaborate.
He urged local authorities to prepare for possible flooding while continuing the drought relief work.