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Wen says fighting drought top priority

[ 2009-02-09 11:48]     字号 [] [] []  
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Premier Wen Jiabao told officials to make drought relief work a "top priority" during his visit to Henan province, even though rain brought some relief to parts of North China over the weekend.

The worst drought to hit the country in half a century has affected people’s lives in eight provinces - Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu.

Parts of North China have experienced some rain since Saturday after authorities fired 2,392 rockets and 409 shells, loaded with cloud-seeding chemicals, into the sky.

Rainfall was recorded in 87 counties in the central and southern parts of Shanxi. "The rainfall has eased the drought situation in Shanxi, especially in the hardest-hit southern part," Du Shunyi, director of the provincial weather bureau, said yesterday.

But other provinces such as Shandong and Henan have seen little or no rain for a long time.

Li Derong, head of Tianzhuang village in Henan's Pingdingshan city, said the light rain over the weekend "just moistened the surface of the earth". The situation will only improve if it rains for 15 days at a stretch, he said.

Light rain has been forecast for North China in the coming days. But that will hardly be enough to fight the drought, said Zhang Peiqun, director of the National Climate Center's Office of Climate Forecast. The situation is not likely to change until at least next month.

About 4.42 million people and 2.22 million heads of livestock are facing shortages of drinking water, the central government said yesterday.

During his visit to Henan over the weekend, Wen said officials must give "top priority" to anti-drought relief work "during this critical period of the global financial crisis". Henan accounts for 10 percent of the country's crop output and a quarter of its wheat yield.

The Agriculture Ministry said water for irrigation has been provided to about half of the 11 million hectares of wheat fields in the eight drought-hit provinces. And on Saturday, the government announced a $12-billion package to help wheat growers in the drought-hit areas.

A Ministry of Water Resources official said more water from the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers would be diverted to the drought-hit areas. More than 5 billion cu m of water has already been diverted from the Yellow River to fight the drought.

Scarce rainfall has meant a fall in the amount of water that can be diverted from the Yellow River's five major reservoirs, official figures show.

The People's Daily yesterday quoted Water Resources Minister Chen Lei as having said the water level in the Yellow River has fallen by 20 to 40 percent.

And according to the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, rainfall in many parts of northern and central China has been 50 to 80 percent below normal.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Wen says fighting drought top priority

About the broadcaster:

Wen says fighting drought top priorityBernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.