1.25m hit by drought in Guangxi, Guangdong

By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-18 07:20

SHENZHEN: Despite a recent cold snap, no rain has fallen in this southern city since November 10.

It is one of dozens of cities in Guangdong Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region that have been battling drought since September.

According to official figures, more than 1 million residents in Guangxi and nearly 250,000 in Guangdong are currently facing drinking water shortages in the worst drought to hit the region for more than 50 years.

Between November 5 and December 10, Guangxi recorded just 0.5 mm of rainfall, the lowest since 1951, the local weather center said.

And as of December 8, 83 out of 89 cities and counties in Guangxi had reported drought, with the situation in more than half of them described as "serious".

One of the country's major sugar cane producers, Guangxi's crop this year is expected to be down by about 2.7 million tons as a result of more than 10 million mu of cropland, 75 percent of the total, being affected by drought, local sugar manufacturers said at a recent meeting.

The government of Guangxi has said it will spend 2.29 billion yuan ($310 million) on irrigation projects this winter and next spring to provide water to people throughout the region, the People's Daily reported.

As of last Thursday in Guangdong, 249,000 people and 73,300 hectares of cropland were facing water shortages, according to the provincial hydraulics bureau.

It said 133 reservoirs in the province had dried up because of the drought.

Official figures show the province received 1,453 mm of rain between January and early December, down almost 20 percent on the average.

The water level of the Beijiang River at Qingyuan, in the north of Guangdong, fell to just 3.79 m on December 5, the lowest this century.

The low level led to more than 100 ships being delayed until dredgers were used to remove 90,000 cu m of silt, the bureau said.

On Friday, the State Council released a circular calling on government departments to strengthen the management of drinking water and supplies for industry and agriculture, and build resources to provide better protection against drought.

It also noted the severe drought in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces which neighbors Guangdong. Many reservoirs and rivers have dried up as there has been little rain since September.

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