Sat, February 07, 2009
China > Mainland > Severe drought hits N China

No end in sight to dry weather

2009-02-07 07:19:05 GMT2009-02-07 15:19:05 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Farmers barrel drinking water supplied by the local government at Chengguan Township in Ruyang County of Luoyang, central China's Henan Province, February 4, 2009. Effective rainfall was nearly 80 percent less than in the same period of previous years. The local government has allocated some 25 million yuan (US$3.65 million) for drought relief and crops protection. [Xinhua]

Farmers irrigate farmland in Yichuan county of Luoyang, central China's Henan Province, February 2, 2009. [Xinhua]

Photo taken on February 5, 2009 shows a dead wheat seedling in Taiping township of Huining County, northwest China's Gansu Province. The county has suffered from severe drought since September 2008, affecting 150,667 hectares of farmland and leaving 184,000 people and 326,000 livestocks in shortage of water. [Xinhua]

A farmer walks on dry farmland in the Yiyang County of Luoyang, central China's Henan Province in this photo taken on February 1, 2009. [Xinhua]

Soldiers help local farmers irrigate drought-stricken farmland in Boai county, central China's Henan Province, February 4, 2009. [Xinhua]

The severe drought that has spread to 12 provincial regions since November will not end soon, a senior official from the National Meteorological Center (NMC) said Friday at a press conference.

Zhai Panmao, director of the prediction and disaster mitigation department of the NMC, said it had been over three decades since a similarly prolonged drought had struck winter wheat areas and said global warming was to blame.

Even so, Zhai predicted some of the drought regions in north China would experience light rainfall over the weekend.

On Saturday, rainfall of 5 to 8 mm is expected in Shaanxi and Henan provinces. Other drought-affected regions will receive light rainfalls on Saturday and Feb 12, according to meteorological reports.

Meteorological agencies in these areas are prepared to artificially precipitate rain when conditions permit, Zhai said.

"On average, artificial precipitation can increase the amount of rainfall by 18 percent."

From Jan 4 to Wednesday, provincial meteorological agencies have fired more than 3,900 cannons and 1,190 rockets to seed rain, in order to relieve the severe situation in Guangxi, Jiangxi and Shanxi provinces and the Xinjiang autonomous region.

"We are doing our best to prevent the situation worsening," Zhai said.

China has raised its drought emergency alert level from orange to red - the highest level - for the first time.

About 66,667 hectares of crop fields have been affected by the dry spell, leaving 4.29 million people and 2.07 million heads of livestock short of water, Er Jingping, secretary-general of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said on Thursday.

In the affected regions about 46 percent of the total planting areas have been plagued, while almost 300,000 hectares of crop fields have been severely-hit.

Meteorological agencies warned farmers to irrigate their fields in a "scientific way" to prevent their wheat freezing in the early spring.

The central government has added 300 million yuan ($44 million) to 100 million yuan of emergency funding to help ease the drought.

Since December, more than 5.26 million people have participated in drought-relief work, with about 1.38 billion yuan allocated, solving water shortages for more than 500,000 people and 280,000 head of livestock, Xinhua reported.

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