China’s drought slightly eased by rainfall

February 10th, 2009 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

ShaanBeijing, Feb 10 (Xinhua) China’s drought has been slightly eased by rainfall in four provinces, an official said Tuesday.

E. Jingping, secretary-general of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said at a press conference that moderate or slight rainfall has eased water shortage for 960,000 people and 1.62 million hectares of farmland.

Although drought has been eased in some regions, the disaster is still expected to worsen in February, as little rainfall is forecast in the country’s east and northeast areas, the official warned.

In parts of the eastern areas, northwest and Yellow River regions, it’s been more than 80 days since it rained. In some worst-hit areas, rainfall was 80 percent less compared with the same period last year.

To cope with the most severe drought in decades, the government launched the highest emergency mechanism. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts.

According to the official, China has irrigated about 9.6 million hectares of farmland in the winter, accounting for 60 percent of the total acreage that suffer drought.

He estimated that other drought-hit wheat farmland would finish irrigation in the next 10 days.

More investment will go to water resources facilities construction, in a bid to ensure water supply and expand domestic consumption, he said.

Last week, the central government decided to earmark 400 million yuan ($58.56 million) in drought relief for local governments. The Ministry of Finance allocated 86.7 billion yuan from its reserve to drought-hit areas in relief funds.

The drought has hit more than 40 percent of the nation’s total wheat cropland, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Eight provinces that were severely hit include Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu.

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