China Drought 2012: Three-Year-Long Dry Spell Continues in Southwest

  on April 05 2012 4:33 PM

A devastating drought in southwestern China's Yunnan province is entering its third year. 

The drought has already affected more than 6.3 million people; 2.4 million have difficulty finding access to drinking water.

Southwestern China's agricultural industries have also been critically affected and have already lost approximately 2 billion yuan ($317 million). 

Farmers have had to switch to more resistant crops, but this has not alleviated many of the problems created by the drought. Families in some regions must turn to transporting water from more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) away. 

China has long been affected by desertification in the northern and western regions, but the drought in Yunnan marks a new high in China's troubles with the climate and environment.

Water Scarcity

Although China has approximately 20 percent of the world's population, it has access to only 7 percent of the globe's freshwater resources.

Eleven of China's 31 provinces and administrative regions have roughly the same level of access to water resources as the Middle East. Inhabitants there get less than 1,000 cubic meters per year.

Urbanization and economic growth will continue to put new stresses on the availability of water in China. Manufacturing, power generation, infrastructure construction, urban lifestyles, and increased food and goods consumption all lead to increased stresses on limited water supplies, leading to further scarcity.

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