Chinese Farmers and Fishermen Grapple with Severe Drought

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Severe drought grips central and eastern China, making it the worst in 50 years. The months-long drought has shrunk many lakes and tributaries of the Yangtze River... threatening the livelihood of millions of Chinese fishermen and farmers.

China—the 'Land of Fish and Rice'—is parched by severe drought. It's threatening the livelihood of many fishermen and farmers in Hubei Province.

These fishing boats lie stranded on the muddy banks of rivers and Lake Honghu.

Fisherman Xiao Gongguo and his wife, now have to manually push their fishing boat along a narrow waterway to reach Lake Honghu.

[Xiao Gongguo, Fisherman]:
"Gradually, over a few years the rain has stopped falling."

[Wang Guzhen, Xiao's wife]:
"It has not rained at all this year."

[Xiao Gongguo, Fisherman]:
"Not at all."

The drought takes its toll on nearly 35 million people along the Yangtze River. Over four million don't have drinkable water.

As the water level keeps dropping, one fish farm owner struggles to keep his fish alive.

[Ouyang Jinghuang, Fish Farm Owner]:
"Usually it's around seven feet deep here, you can see the water level marks there."

Many fish farms have no choice, but resort to filling their ponds with muddy water from the shrinking lake.

Farmers will need plenty of rainfall in coming weeks to save their annual rice crops and thousands of fish and crabs.

Droughts lasting for months like this one are unusual.

[Mr. Gong, Local resident]:
"I am 78-years-old and I have never seen a drought like this. In this area we are more scared of severe rain that causes flooding."

The drought threatens to cut power production, as the Yangtze River supplies water to the Three Gorges Dam and thousands of other hydro plants in China.

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