Despite freak hail storms and heavy rain showers hitting Yunnan today, this year's annual drought causes serious problems in Yunnan and will continue to do so until the rainy season arrives. This year's drought follows a negative trend — it is worse than previous years, with unusually low precipitation in southern and central Yunnan. As we previously reported, the annual drought continues to worsen year on year.
A reduction of inflow from streams and rivers has lead to a shortage of water storage in reservoirs and lakes, subsequently causing a decline in water supply across the province which has adversely affect agricultural production and drinking water supplies. Almost one and a half million people have been affected by a drinking water shortage. This year's tobacco, rice, corn and other crops are threatened by the drought. The prefectures of Pu'er and Yuxi are particularly affected, but even frivolous activities such as boating on Kunming's Panlong River are suffering, and fires are threatening forests across the province.
Disaster relief efforts
Yunnan's provincial government allocated 50 million yuan in drought relief funds earlier this year, to support drought relief and water diversion projects and disaster relief initiatives. Prefectures have implemented measures to assuage the effects on agriculture, nature and urban and rural drinking water supplies for humans and livestock. These measures include a dedicated drought relief workforce of over one million people, mobile equipment dedicated to drought resistance, implementing 3934 drought-resistant electro-mechanical wells, cloud-seeding and 131.000 water-carrying vehicles. 73 counties in 12 prefectures have organized and implemented 502 drought relief emergency projects. So far 323 projects to upgrade emergency water supplies have been completed, effectively safeguarding the urban and rural water supply for more than three million people.
A dedicated joint working group consisting of representatives of the Provincial Prevention Index and the Provincial Department of Water Conservancy, together with Provincial Emergency Committee has visited Pu'er and Yuxi, to better understand the drought and to manage the drought relief work. They have formulated a rural drinking water safety supervision plan for counties that are affected by poverty as well as drought.
After the rain, the floods
As the summer approaches, so do the rains and the accompanying floods. Yunnan province has started planning flood prevention work — while simultaneously continuing to work on drought relief. Since the rains arrive in uneven and heavy bursts this may cause problems in some areas. Torrential rain will cause extreme fluctuations in the water level of mountain streams, causing flash floods in small and medium river basins downstream. Some major tributaries of the Yangtze (金沙江) and the Nanpang (南盘江) rivers may experience moderate floods, and small floods may occur in the main tributaries of the Honghe (红河), Lancang (澜沧江) and Nujiang (怒江) rivers.
It is expected that the twin disasters of spring drought followed by summer flooding will continue to have a severe impact in Yunnan province.