China: Drought causes water, food shortages

World Vision is responding as southern China experiences its third year of drought.

By Anita Zhao, World Vision China
Published May 21, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

As southern China continues its third year of drought, families and villages share the hardships.

Communities ration water

Three-and-a-half-year-old Xueyun and her 2-year-old brother live with their grandparents and great-grandmother in Jinhua, a rural township of Jianchuan county, Yunnan province. The children’s parents left the village to find work.

In Jianchuan county, 20 percent of the population—nearly 37,000 people—is suffering from water shortages, and around 12 percent of people are short of food. 

Great-grandmother Li Shouxing, age 78, is the children’s primary caregiver. Every day she struggles to carry water by herself for household use.

Since February, there have been daily lines in Jinhua for water rations; some 600 people from 98 households queue up to get water for their families and livestock.

“The village’s water tank was dried up two years ago. Then tap water was connected from a water source far away, but it was also dried up since the beginning of this year. There is water rationing in the village now,” Shouxing says.

'Our lives are really hard'

Xueyun’s grandparents carry water to irrigate the seven acres they farm. They pay about $50 a month per acre for water and spend a lot of time carrying it. They also cover watered plants with plastic film to reduce evaporation.  

“Most wheat we planted in early spring has withered. If it doesn’t rain, we will lose all our maize, too,” says Shouxing.

“We lost a lot of crops this year. Villagers have to spend much on water and also food.  Our lives are really hard,” says Li Jiashou, an official from the village committee.

World Vision's response

Due to the drought, people in Qingping village have adopted water rationing. (Photo: Anita Zhao/World Vision)Though there has been scattered rainfall in the area since early April, it has not been enough to ease the drought or improve food security. A World Vision assessment team said that crops were dying before they could mature.

“As the time for growing spring harvest has already passed, villagers will very likely be faced with [a] more severe food crisis,” the team reported.

World Vision plans to conduct food distributions in Jianchuan and Fuyuan counties, in addition to previous water distribution and improvement projects to the water supply in Fuyuan.

Fuyuan county is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years, with 65 percent of the farmland experiencing drought conditions. An estimated 541,000 people have been affected.

Water shortages affect millions

Unfortunately, Yunnan province is not the only Chinese province currently affected by drought.

According to China’s Flood Control and Drought Relief agency, drought has caused water shortages for more than 8.57 million people throughout the country. Some 3.64 million hectares of farmland across Yunnan, Shanxi, Hubei, Sichuan, and Gansu provinces have been affected.   

Droughts are frequent in China, which has 20 percent of the world’s population, but only 6 percent of its fresh water resources.

How you can help

Pray for children and families in China who are sufffering from water shortages. Pray for an end to drought and for an increase in water availability.

Donate to our Disaster Relief Fund to help us respond to disasters in places like China.  Your gift will help us rush emergency supplies like life-saving food, clean water, medical supplies, and shelter to survivors.