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Hunan Drought Mobilizes the Masses

While much of East China is still smarting from the havoc wreaked by Typhoon Matsa, Hunan Province in Central China is experiencing a different kind of natural disaster -- a drought, due to persistent high temperatures and poor rainfall, reported Xinhua News Agency yesterday.

Within the province itself, about 1.17 million residents and 600,000 livestock do not have access to sufficient supplies of drinking water in the 12 cities, 90 counties and 1,612 towns and villages all afflicted by the drought. Farmland of some 858,000 hectares is also now in dire need of irrigation.

Water levels in the reservoirs of the province have also dropped dramatically, now standing at 31-58 per cent below normal levels. Compared with the total volume of stored water last year, the reservoirs now have 2.44 billion cubic metres less. Among all the reservoirs, 849 are running dry. Rivers in the region are also drying up, reported the Changsha Evening news.

Zhangjiajie, normally noted for its beautiful scenery, is the worst hit area. More than 300,000 people's water supply has been seriously disrupted, along with 50,000 livestock. In the fields, 80 per cent of crops in Zhangjiajie are now affected by the drought, 30 per cent may well yield nothing.

Now the government is mobilizing the whole province in the fight against the drought. More than 80,000 officials and 2.4 million people are engaged in the province-wide move.

Supplying enough drinking water is the No 1 priority, whilst getting enough water through for agriculture and industry is a close second.

To aid farmers whose crops are perishing, local governments have given subsidies and offered preferential rates for electricity used in countering the effects of the drought, reported the Hunan Daily.

(China Daily August 10, 2005)

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