(February 11, 2011) According to The Guardian, the Chinese government plans to spend $1 billion to divert water, construct emergency wells and improve irrigation in an effort to “head off a destabilising level of stress over water.” Current drought conditions are the worst that China has seen in 60 years.
China has announced a billion dollars in emergency water aid to ease its most severe drought in 60 years, as the United Nations warned of a threat to the harvest of the world’s biggest wheat producer.
The desperate measures were evident at Baita reservoir in Shandong – one of several key agricultural provinces afflicted by four months without rain. With nearby crops turning yellow, a mechanical digger cut a crude, open-cast well into the dried-up bed of the reservoir. Muddy water from the five-metre deep pit was pumped up to the surface via a hose that snaked past a fishing boat stranded on the cracked earth.
As the water spluttered on to his wheat field, farmer Liu Baojin expressed concern the support may have come too late. Despite the emergency well digging and partial compensation from the government, he fears he may have to seek work in the city if his harvest fails.
“I guess a third of my crops have already died,” he said. “I’m very worried. I’ve never seen such a dry spell.”
The problems are compounded by the growing water demands of cities and industry. On the outskirts of Sishui – which translates as Four Waters due to its historic abundance of rivers and sprints – villagers complain that they are not allowed to use the Si river that runs past their homes because the water is earmarked for the Huajin paper mill and an artificial lake in a nearby urban development.