First national plan to tackle drought approved
The first national drought plan has been passed in an effort to improve measures to combat the frequent natural disasters that have threatened agricultural production nationwide in recent years.
The plan, approved at an executive meeting of the State Council on Wednesday, 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.
A statement released by Xinhua after the meeting said more than 60 per cent 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.
In a national teleconference 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 per cent of the country's arable land and 46 per cent of its population, but the amount of water resources there account for only 19 per cent,' 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, though with Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou encountering lingering droughts since July.
The amount the central government has spent on flood- and drought-relief efforts this year