Half of the vast territory of China is suffering from drought, more or less severely, due to record temperatures this summer, which is making water scarce, including in Tibet, according to official data.
Since the beginning of its meteorological records in 1961, China has never experienced such a hot summer, an unprecedented situation both in terms of the duration and the magnitude of the heat wave.
Several major cities recorded the hottest days in their history, with up to 45°C recorded in the southwest of the country. Like the largest river in the country, the Yangtze, many waterways have seriously dried up.
In total, the drought affects half of the territory, more or less depending on the location, according to a map released Wednesday by the national meteorological service.
Whole sections of the country are affected, with in particular a large band that encompasses the southern part of the very mountainous Tibet Autonomous Region (west), and extends to the coastal regions in the east, the economic heart of China.
This vast area, which has a total population of more than 370 million, mainly follows the course of the Yangtze River.
Some parts of Tibet are among the areas of drought qualified as “severe” or “exceptional” , by the national meteorology.
These conditions represent a challenge for agriculture, in a country already in normal times with a shortage of arable land.
Drought is particularly problematic for the rice and soybean crops, which are very water-intensive.
In this context, the government decided on Wednesday to release a special envelope of 10 billion yuan (nearly 1.5 billion euros) for support farmers in the face of drought, said state television CCTV.
This sum will mainly be allocated to ensuring the rice harvests in the fall.
The drying up of courses of water, which feed the hydraulic dams, also forces the authorities to locally ration electricity, at the moment t where locals run air conditioners on full blast to cool off.