China drought leaves 670,000 without drinking water

BEIJING, April 13 (Reuters) – A drought in China’s northeast Liaoning province has left nearly 700,000 people without drinking water after rainfall in the first three months of 2008 tumbled to one-fifth levels last year, the Xinhua agency said on Sunday.

The area is a top grain producer, and maize and rice farming is due to begin next week, but from January to the end of March it had got less than 2 centimetres (less than an inch) of rain.

Some 66 reservoirs have dried up, but the area has raised cash to build 1,700 new wells and expand and upgrade water conservation systems to try
and ensure spring planting can go ahead, Xinhua said, citing local sources.

China’s weather administration said in early April that drought parching other parts of northern China was the worst in several decades and would
continue this month.

Drought and floods are perennial problems in China, which has per capital water resources that are well below the global average. Its meteorologists have said global climate change is exacerbating extreme weather, including droughts.

About 30 million Chinese in the countryside and more than 20 million in urban areas face drinking water shortages every year despite huge government investment to address the problem.

Across China, by March 26, 19.4 million hectares (48 million acres) of arable land had been hit by the drought, including 3.3 million hectares (8.15 million acres) of cropland.

(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

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