Farmers’ futures evaporate in China drought

QIXINGCUN, March 29, 2010 (AFP) – Peasant farmer Dong Guicheng wakes up every morning hoping for rain, but each day a crippling drought instead brings more disappointment and desperation. In a scene repeated by millions of people in a vast area of China’s parched southwest, Dong treks daily to a dwindling reservoir to fetch scarce water for his walnut and chestnut trees, which have seen almost no rain for half a year.

His family has barely enough to drink, he hasn’t bathed for weeks, and Dong says the damage to his crops could cut his earnings by 80 percent this year.

“I am very worried,” Dong said, as he and his wife Dao Haiyan filled a rusty tank with water from a dwindling reservoir in Yunnan province before carting it to their home two kilometres (one mile) away.

“If there continues to be no rain I will have no income. The impact has been too big for words,” he said, shaking his fist skywards.

The drought plaguing Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, the Guangxi region and the mega-city of Chongqing has been called the worst in a century.

It has devastated crops, fuelled price rises and highlighted China’s chronic water problems.

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