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Drought leaves 164,000 people short of drinking water in Ningxia

A five-month drought has left 164,000 people in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region short of drinking water, an official with the regional flood control and drought relief headquarters said today.

The drought has hit 11 counties and districts in the central part of the region, including Zhongning, Haiyuan and Yuanzhou, with a total population of 1.47 million, said Li Kewen, vice director of the headquarters.

"Little precipitation is expected in central Ningxia in the near future," said Li, adding that there would be no rain in April.

From November to January, the central parts of the region recorded little rain and the drought was worsening as no significant rain had occurred in April, said Li.

"The drought has also posed difficulties in watering 79,000 cattle and 1.28 million sheep," said Li.

He said 100,000 people had to buy drinking water from places miles away from their homes.

"Each family has to spend at least 100 yuan (US$14.63) on drinking water every month," said Ma Jun, head of the Xutao Village of Zhongning County.

Ma said most villagers chose to buy well water, which tasted salty and bitter, but cost only 70 yuan a cubic meter, as they were unable to afford tap water, which cost up to 300 yuan a cubic meter, including transport.

The regional government has set aside 1.6 million yuan in special funds to buy water wagons for people to carry water and to repair damaged water storage projects.

Local governments have also mobilized officials and volunteers to carry drinking water for remote schools and households.


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