China drought affects more than 34 million people

May 28, 2011 by Robert Saiget
A Chinese fishing boat sits on the dried-up banks of the Yangtze river, China's longest and most economically important river, in Wuhu, east China's Anhui province, on May 27, where water levels have been 40 percent lower than the average of the past 50 years.

A debilitating drought along China's Yangtze river has affected more than 34 million people, leaving farmers and livestock without water and parching a major grain belt, according to the government.

More than 4.23 million people are having difficulty finding adequate drinking supplies, while more than five million are in need of assistance to overcome the , the Civil Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"The special characteristics of this drought disaster is that it has persisted a long time," the ministry said.

"Secondly the losses to the agricultural and breeding industries have been severe... while drinking water for people and livestock have been seriously impacted."

Rainfall levels from January to April in the of the Yangtze, China's longest and most economically important river, have been up to 60 percent lower than average levels of the past 50 years, it said.

"Large areas of farmland have been severely parched and cracking, making it impossible for early rice to take root," the ministry said.

The agricultural impact is likely to further alarm officials already trying to tame high prices, including which have been rising steadily on global markets in recent months.

Water levels in lakes and reservoirs mostly in the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan are close to historic lows, decimating fish farms, state press reports said.

The national flood and authority has ordered the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest , to increase its discharge of water to alleviate the regions downstream, the China Daily said.

"If the drought continues and there is no rainfall before June 10, the dam will lose the capacity to relieve the drought," the paper quoted Wang Hai, an official with the corporation that oversees the dam, as saying.

According to the state meteorological station, no rains are predicted in the region until June 2.

Dried up bank of the Yangtze River is seen in southwest China's Chongqing municipality. The drought on China's Yangtze river has led to historically low water levels that have forced authorities to halt shipping on the nation's longest waterway, according to the government and media.

Already the Three Gorges Dam has had to cut back on electrical production due to the drought, while shipping along the river below the dam has been hampered due to the low water levels, media reports said.

The State Grid, China's state-owned power distributor, reportedly said this week that 10 of its provincial-level power grids were suffering severe shortages due to the drought's impact on hydroelectric generation, including Shanghai and the heavily populated southwestern Chongqing region.

China could face a summer electricity shortage of 30 gigawatts -- the most severe power shortfall since 2004, the company said.

China's north has been suffering from a lack of rain for nearly 15 years -- largely attributed to global warming -- while the south, especially the basin, has been prone to flooding during the annual summer rainy season.

Just last summer, sustained torrential rainfall across the region caused widespread flooding and landslides leading to the deaths of more than 3,000 people, state press reported.

Explore further: Central China drought worst in over 50 years: reports

Related Stories

Drought halts shipping on China's Yangtze

May 12, 2011

Drought on China's Yangtze river has led to historically low water levels that have forced authorities to halt shipping on the nation's longest waterway, the government and media said Thursday.

China drought impact widens, reaching Shanghai

May 26, 2011

(AP) -- China's worst drought in a half-century is deepening, with the parched weather that has left millions in the Yangtze River region without enough drinking water pushing inflation higher and adding to widespread power ...

China says planning more dams on troubled Yangtze

April 21, 2009

China will build at least 20 more reservoirs or hydroelectric projects in the Yangtze river system by 2020, the government said Tuesday, despite growing concerns over dam construction there.

China admits Three Gorges Dam caused 'host of ills'

May 19, 2011

China's Three Gorges Dam has caused a host of ills that must be "urgently" addressed, the government has said, in a rare admission of problems in a project it has long praised as a world wonder.

China 'hit by power crunch' amid drought

May 18, 2011

Chinese factories are facing curbs on electricity use as coal prices soar and a severe drought hits hydropower plants, state media have said, with possible major shortages ahead this summer.

Recommended for you

East Antarctic Ice Sheet has history of instability

December 13, 2017

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet locks away enough water to raise sea level an estimated 53 meters (174 feet), more than any other ice sheet on the planet. It's also thought to be among the most stable, not gaining or losing ...

Hydraulic fracturing negatively impacts infant health

December 13, 2017

From North Dakota to Ohio to Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has transformed small towns into energy powerhouses. While some see the new energy boom as benefiting the local economy and decreasing ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (3) May 28, 2011
Droughts in China are counterbalanced by floods in the USA.

Almost every day more rain falls here. The ground is soaked; the Mississippi River and its tributaries are out of their banks.

Serious scientific study of Earth's climate [1,2], as opposed to the politically motivated scare mongering of CO2-induced global warming, could tell us why some areas receive too much rain while others receive too little.

A better understanding of Earth's heat source - the Sun - is the first step [3,4].

1. Prolonged minima and the 179-yr cycle of the solar inertial motion, Solar Physics 110 (1987) 191-220

2. Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate, Journal of Fusion Energy 21 (2002) 193-198

3. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", E & E 20 (2009) 131-144

4. "Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011) 19 pp

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
5 / 5 (2) May 28, 2011
omar tumor.

just like some places are getting colder and other places getting hotter.
The planet is out of balance, there is no counter balance.
not rated yet May 30, 2011
omar tumor.

just like some places are getting colder and other places getting hotter.
The planet is out of balance, there is no counter balance.

reference: "The planet is out of balance, there is no counter balance."
One thought ties to Your comment:
If ?Man? caused This 'Climatic Problem',
Of 'Flood-Drought', shouldn't ?Man? step forward with some/many suggestions to 'Solve' this 'Flood/Drought' ???
Suggest: "Open a Forum"; many minds are quite engaged!
Perhaps an Open-Mike-Night could explore what is of Vital Importance 'To-Us-All'... Forget Politicians, "We Are The Ones In The Trenches!"
"We Are 'The Ones to Suffer' if WE Fail to ACT on Our Behalf!
Open Forum!
Aware that I am NOT the brightest Bulb on the Tree, even my mind hypotehsizes possible 'Solutions'.; solutions dependent on the Most abundant and Least Expensive Materials Known,
If Interested, Please see additional part of comment, next posted:

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.