November 7, 2011
China has passed the first national drought plan aimed at improving measures to combat the natural disaster that has threatened the country's agricultural production in recent years.
The plan, approved at an executive meeting of the State Council on Wednesday (Nov 2), set targets for the next five and 10 years, including "remarkably easing" the shortage of drinking water for the public and livestock in major drought-hit regions by 2015.
By 2020, the aim is to ensure that drought-hit regions have enough drinking water, and that the most important grain-growing fields receive adequate irrigation.
It was the first time the central government had drafted a national plan specifically targeting droughts, said Professor Yang Peiling , deputy dean of the College of Water Conservancy and Civil Engineering at the China Agricultural University.
"Nationwide droughts or droughts that affect a large area of the country have been hitting China more frequently and leading to worse results in recent years, largely due to the impact of climate change," he said.
More than 60% of the nation's counties were vulnerable to drought, while about one in every six cities suffered from an acute shortage of water.
Under the plan, the government will build more water reserves, especially in rural areas, and will set up a nationwide drought-monitoring network to help with timely decision-making during future droughts.
The statement said the government may also raise water prices to get people to conserve more, and projects consuming a lot of water may be restricted.
On the irrigation of farmland in the coming winter and spring, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said contending with sparse water resources was a major problem hindering the mainland's agricultural development.
"Northern China has 60% of the country's arable land and 46% of its population, but the amount of water resources there account for only 19%," Hui said. "As China's grain production centre keeps moving north, the conflict between water supply and demand is worsening."
The situation in the south has been no better off, with Yunnan , Sichuan and Guizhou encountering lingering droughts since July, he added.