As the worst drought in a century plagued more than 25 million residents in the southwestern province of Yunnan, experts stated that the severe conditions have been intensified by climate change, which has decreased the rains and increased extreme weather events in the province since the 1960s.
Environmental scientist Yang Yong of the Hengduan Mountain Research Center stated, “The ecological system and the environment have accumulated so many problems in so many years, [after] decades of deforestation [and] unplanned farming.”
Many rural families have faced food shortages as the drought, which began in Fall 2009, took its toll on 8 million hectares of arable land and the crops that are the region’s only source of sustenance.
Chinese Correspondent (F): You can see behind me this long irrigation ditch. It could irrigate 1,000 mu of farm land, but the water in the reservoir has completely gone dry and cannot provide any water. You can see that this ditch has gone dry completely. It can’t offer a tiny drop of irrigation water.
Chinese Correspondent (F): Do you have enough drinking water?
Villager (M): We can barely survive. Don’t you see people fighting for drinking water?
Drought-afflicted farmer, harvesting broad beans (M): Our harvest over the last few years is much better than this. It’s impossible to harvest anything now. It’s already dry.
Drought-afflicted farmer 2 (F): We are struggling; we don’t have enough working hands. In total we have 300 families. We all harvest nothing this year. Only the stalks are left. If the wind is big, the leaves will fly away.
VOICE: In the spring of 2010, the provincial Department of Land and Resources began a water excavation project supported by China's Ministry of Land and Resources, which has successfully dug 1,791 wells to supply over 2 million residents as of May 24. However, Vice Director of the Department of Land and Resources Li Lianju cautioned that this project can provide only a temporary solution.
In early June, some relief from the intense conditions also arrived as Yunnan welcomed the blessing of rains that helped bring some much-needed moisture to crops.
We thank the Chinese officials and personnel working to ease the acute drought situation, as we pray for plentiful rain and the resilience of the afflicted. Let us all meanwhile join in alleviating such extreme conditions through our sustainable care for the environment.
Ever-concerned for humanity’s welfare, Supreme Master Ching Hai addressed such tolls of global warming during a September 2009 videoconference in Peru, while suggesting the most effective actions to preserve life and restore our Earth.