Drought in Southwest China

Published on Author quinn

A combination of little rainfall and rising temperatures have caused a serious drought in Southwest China. The drought has affected more than 8.7 million people in the Yunnan province, damaging more than 834,000 hectares of crops. The effects of the drought started to be seen after a dry period from February 18th to March 10th. The drought has now spread to 15 cities in the southwest region of the country, and has had a direct economic loss of more than $981 million for the farmers in the Yunnan province. Although some counties are having water delivered for daily use, it is still having an effect on the poorer families in the region. With more than 2.6 million people and 1.33 million heads of livestock facing a serious drinking water shortage, families are stating that they “have no idea how [their] lives will go on if it does not rain soon.”

2 Responses to Drought in Southwest China

  1. China’s National Climate Center predicts that the climate and rainfall patterns of the southwest regions of China are changing; The CNCC is also expecting a possible permanent decrease in precipitation over the next 20 years. The current drought is not something that residents just need to be concerned about in the present; it has serious implications for the future. The government has taken an active role in order to combat the difficulties presented by water shortages. The Sichuan province uses cloud seeding in order to induce precipitation. This method was first introduced in preparation for the 2008 Olympics and it was effective in promoting precipitation and reducing the industrial smog. Additionally, regions are building cistems (Yunnan plans to build 400,000 by 2015) in order to store rainwater during the wetter seasons.
    Although the employed methods are helpful it is essential that the government focuses on improving roads and water channels to further facilitate access to water. Currently many farmers have to walk multiple miles in order to get water. With roads and water channels, it will be a lot easier to get water especially when the normal sources are affected by drought. The water issue is just another example of how important building up transportation is in regards to the economy and overall well-being of citizens.

  2. Some parts of China can resort to water conservation but that really is only where irrigation’s used. In rainfed areas, either the rains come in a timely manner … or you lose your crop. China has huge imbalances between where precipation fals and where it’s needed. The western half of the country is arid at best. In such regions, agriculture is centered on oases (water runoff from mountains) or tube wells tapping acquifers for irrigation. The acquifers are bottoming out, so those areas are under stress. Indeed, as with the Colorado River, the Yellow River no longer flows into the sea, all the water is drained before then (and what remains is too polluted to use). So there’s a huge diversion project, still in discussion stages, to carry water from the upper reaches of the Yangtze River basis to the Yellow River. (I’ve seen no recent discussion, so it may be little removed from the “wouldn’t it be nice if we could…” stage, rather than something soon to be built.)

    The climate change story is very discouraging. Lots of formerly fertile areas will cease to be so; I don’t know whether new areas will offset that.