Water Forum 2011:The cause and impact of drought in Yun Nan Province

Yunnan Environment Development Institute

Good morning everyone, I would like to share about the drought situation in Yun Nan Province today. Before the great drought in 2009, people always thought that the water resource in Yun Nan is very rich. I would like to start my presentation with a brief introduction of the water resource in Yun Nan.

The water resource in Yun Nan is actually very abundant. There are 899 rivers with surface flow area larger than 1 million square meters. There are six river systems and 30 lakes in Yun Nan. However, the water is not distributed evenly in terms of either time or space. In terms of time, most of the rainfall is during the rainy season. During April and May, the period need water most; there is only 2%-3% rainfall in Yun Nan. In terms of space, most of the rainfall is concentrated in plateau and mountains. However, in basin, where 85% people live, there is little rainfall every year. Even for plateau and mountains, when it rains, the water lost through the underground river.

There are plenty of reasons for drought in Yun Nan. Firstly, climate change has led to very extreme weather, such as drought. Secondly, in order to develop local economic, we sacrificed our environment. The growing of tea, rubber and tobacco has serious impact on ecology. In terms of social-economical aspect, there are following reasons:

Firstly, most of the farmland in Yun Nan is sloping farmland. Water is likely to loss in the sloping farmland.

Secondly, water stress for human and livestock. People have to use hours a day to get water from the origins. There are few water supply systems in rural areas.

Thirdly, because of the poverty in rural area, there is no enough capital to build up water supply system.

The drought in Yun Nan has great impact to people there. It is so hard for the residents to get water everyday. It also affects the agriculture and industry in Yun Nan. The direct lost in agriculture is around 12 billions. There are thousands of poor families behind this amount. In addition, the economy in rural areas in Yun Nan is self-sustained. Thus when the disaster comes, the households have no grain to sustain themselves. The use of water and electricity is also restricted in cities in Yun Nan because of water shortage.

The drought also affects the biodiversity and leads to forest fires. In Kunming, Dali and Shangri-La, there are always forest fires in dry season.

Our organization has been working hard on alleviating the drought in Yun Nan. We investigate sustainable technics, and focus on their effects to people, community and environment. Moreover, we think that there are plenty of reasons for drought. Therefore, the solutions should be diverse. We make cisterns in countryside, and help the residents to build up a rainwater collecting system. We also distribute filters to households in rural area so that they could purify water at home. We assist the local government to build up water supply system, and set up solar water heaters. Before that, the residents there could only take shower once a year for lack of water. We also repaired the irrigation system.

Apart from water supply in daily life and farming, we also help the residents planting. If the condition is suitable, we suggest them to plant economic plants, which can also increase their income.

We are also active in promoting new energies such as methane, to eliminate the damage caused by fueling woods. We also educate secondary school students there, to make them know more about health and environment.

With the main focus of field research and practice, we cooperate with other NGOs, and try to build up a larger platform together with local government, volunteers, companies and people who benefited to make a bigger difference. Thank you!


Documenting/文字記錄: Emma Wu, Lilian Hou