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The 2010–2011 China drought was a drought that began in late 2010 and impacted eight provinces in the northern part of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It was the worst drought to hit the country in 60 years, and it affected most of wheat-producing regions in the PRC.




The drought began as early as September 2010 in some regions,[1] though widespread lack of rain and snow began in October.[2] The lack of precipitation caused lower than normal snow cover, putting wheat crops at risk of being killed by frost as well as reducing the amount of moisture in the ground.[2]


The provinces of Anhui, Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Shandong and Shanxi were impacted by the drought.[3] As well as destroying wheat crops, the drought caused water shortages for an estimated 2.31 million people and 2.57 million livestock. Within the eight provinces, 20% of the farmland and 35% of the entire wheat crop was impacted.[4] By February 2011, the drought hit a total of up to 7,730,000 hectares (19,100,000 acres) of winter wheat that had already been planted.[1] Some lakes, including Lake Hong in Hubei province, dried up significantly, with the Hubei lake shrinking to one-eighth of its normal surface area and one-fifth its usual depth, forcing 3,234 local residents to relocate.[5]

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the potential of damage to China's wheat harvest was likely a factor in an increase of worldwide wheat prices in early 2011.[2]

By the start of June, the drought had affected 35 million people, including 4.2 million facing a drinking water shortage. Direct economic damage had reached 15 billion yuan (about 2.3 billion USD), while several provinces resorted to using cloud seeding to induce artificial rain.[5]

On 24 June 3.65 million people and 3.47 million head of livestock were short of drinking water in the autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia and the provinces of Gansu and Shanxi despite the flooding in other parts of China.[6]


During late February and early March, three events of snow or rain impacted much of northern China, leaving less than a third of the total acreage of wheat production still affected.[7] The precipitation occurred at about the time wheat planted in late 2010 was beginning to sprout and needed water.[7] Government irrigation and aid efforts also contributed to lessening the impact of the drought.[7] Tian Qi Zhu, a wheat expert at the Shandong Agricultural University, said on 7 March that "[e]xcept for some areas up in the hill region of Shandong where there is still insufficient water, I would say the drought is under control.[7]

Despite flooding in many regions by 20 June 2011 a government minister reported that drought was still affecting 72.19 million mu (4.81 million hectares) in unflooded parts of Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu provinces and some northern provinces.[8]



By early February 2011, the Chinese government had spent nearly US$15 billion in cash payments to farmers and subsidies to reduce the price of materials like diesel fuel, pesticides and fertilizer.[2] The government announced in early February 2011 several tactics to combat the effects of the drought. On 11 February, it was announced that an estimated US$1 billion would be spent on obtaining water to be used on wheat fields, including drilling about 1,350 new wells and sending personnel from the China Geological Survey and the Ministry of Land and Resources to attempt to locate new below-ground water reserves.[3] On 9 and 10 February, cloud seeding had been used to induce rain, resulting in 3 millimetres (0.12 in) of snow.[4] Indirectly, the government said it raises the prices of some grains, provide farmers with technological aid and release grain from its reserves to avoid a spike in prices.[4]

Some farmers affected by the drought criticized the government for not doing enough to support the agriculture industry during the drought, or for giving aid too late.[10] Others blamed the restrictions on using water from certain sources, intended to go to industrial or residential developments, for increasing the effects of the drought on their crops.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Chinese farmers struggle to fight severe drought". Xinhua News Agency. 10 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d "FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD SPECIAL ALERT" (PDF). United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 8 February 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b "China to dig 1,350 wells to ease drought, ensure grain production". Xinhua. 11 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "In China, record drought brings focus on water security". The Hindu. 12 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b Reuters, TWN (June 2, 2011). "Chinese lake shrinks, forcing over 3,000 to relocate". The Weather Network News. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Storm drenches east China while drought plagues northwest". 25 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "Fears of Wheat Crisis in China Recede as Drought Eases". The New York Times. 7 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-03-07. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  8. ^ "China in crucial moment in flood control, says minister".
  9. ^ "Drought persists in northwest as downpour drenches south". 18 June 2011.
  10. ^ a b "China bids to ease drought with $1bn emergency water aid". The Guardian. 11 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.

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