• Decade-long drought threatens poor county
  • Xinhua 2010-05-26 12:39 anonymous
  • (Low carbon net news) A decade-long drought has severely parched a poor county in northwest China's Gansu Province, leaving croplands dry and the livelihoods of the population threatened.

    More than 120,000 villagers and 26,400 heads of livestock in three townships in northern Jingyuan County face severe water shortages, said Xie Yousheng, head of the county government.

    Everyday, along winding paths and over the plains and through the mountains, long lines of the county's residents travel up to 10 kilometers from their home with their livestock loaded with buckets to fetch drinking water.

    The three townships are close to the Tenggeli Desert and receive annual precipitation of less than 200 millimeters -- but evaporation reaches up to 1,700 mm a year.

    "I have a water tank in my home, but it only stores snow water collected in the winter. That water is filthy," said Zhang Guohua, a villager in Woniu Village, Yongxin Township.

    In some villages, people sold their livestock because there was little rain and grass.

    "We have distributed cash and supplies, such as water and grain, to help relieve the situation," said Xie, adding that "we have organized the villagers to work as migrant laborers in other places. But these measures won't solve the fundamental problem."

    The irrigation facilities built in 1980s cannot meet the county's demand, Xie said.

    The State Council, or China's cabinet, has unveiled a support package to boost development in Gansu. The measures include providing adequate drinking water to drought-stricken people.

    "We are presently preparing to build a new water control project," Xie said.