2013-08-16 12:02:14

13 million affected by drought in China

(Vatican Radio) Authorities in China say millions of people are now suffering from a water shortage that has also destroyed crops. The alert comes amid other indications that China may face chronic water problems in years ahead.

A drought has left nearly 13 million people without easy access to drinking water, China's Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Thursday. It said the problem is acute in seven southern regions.

This summer has been unusually hot in southern China and a lack of rain means almost a million hectares of farmland will produce no harvest this year, officials said.

But lack of water has been a growing problem for years. China's water resources are just a quarter of the global average when measured by head of population. And yet its industry uses four to ten times more water per unit of GDP -- one factor behind the country's rapid industrialisation.

And what water there is, is increasingly unusable. This spring, the Geological Survey of China said ninety percent of groundwater is polluted.

Authorities are responding. On Thursday, the Ministry of Water Resources said it would try to tackle water and soil loss in areas amounting to 30,000 square kilometres.

Over the next five years, it will try to rebuild farmland and plant trees to try to halt the spread of desert.

Listen to Alastair Wanklyn’s report: RealAudioMP3

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.