News / Asia

No End in Sight for China's Drought

People walk on a dried up pond at Hanzhuang village in Tangyin county in central China's Henan province (File Photo)
People walk on a dried up pond at Hanzhuang village in Tangyin county in central China's Henan province (File Photo)

A prolonged drought across much of China is threatening the country's wheat crop and could affect global food prices. Capital Beijing is among the regions badly affected by water shortages.

Beijing has not seen any rain or snow for a hundred days and the government warned the country Wednesday the drought does not look like it will end soon.

But the capital fares better than other areas suffering the worst drought in 60 years.

Shandong is a main agricultural producing province and sits in the heart of the country's eastern wheat belt, which grows 80 percent of the country's crop.

The government says farmers there are suffering from the worst drought in 300 years.

China’s drought control agency says more than five million hectares of crops have been damaged.

Millions of people in the east face severe drinking water shortages. The Water Resources Ministry says two-thirds of China’s cities are short of water.

Jonathan Watts, who has written extensively about the environmental effects of China’s modernization, says drought is not the only problem when it comes to water supplies in the country.

He says ever-increasing water demand in China has seen the natural water table and many lakes and rivers all but run dry. Pollution also has fouled many water sources.

But he says now the government seems willing to act and cut waste.

"The government has announced as a priority that it will double spending on water conservation and the next 10 years should see an improvement," said Watts. "It is not just finding new ways to increase supply but is actually about reducing the waste and perhaps even capping demand, and using water much more efficiently. This is really the way to go, and it seems like they are ready to do it."

The government has implemented an emergency response plan, putting parched areas on a 24-hour alert, dispatching experts and aid and ordering daily damage reports.

The dry spell prompted the United Nations World Food Program to warn Tuesday that China's wheat crop is now under threat.

Agricultural experts say this is bad news not only for China, but also for the world.

A poor harvest will see China import more grain, which could push up world prices, and adding soaring food inflation in many parts of the world.

China’s government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on drought relief this year. And the government is building a system to pump water hundreds of miles from the wet south to the dry north.

State media reported Wednesday the Three Gorges Dam discharged millions of liters of water to assist areas down many miles down stream.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs