History of Droughts in China

Drought has been the most serious natural disaster in Chinese history. Serious droughts occurred more than 1000 times from 206 b.c. to 1949 a.d. (Zhang, 1990; Li and Lin, 1993), or once about every two years. Over the years, the eastern part of China has become more drought prone.

Drought impacts have lessened since 1949 because the government has improved irrigation facilities. Nevertheless, agricultural production is still affected by drought because yields of most crops depend on weather conditions. Figure 28.1 shows the yearly variation in the total area affected by droughts since 1949. The most serious droughts occurred during the 1960s and the 1970s, and drought area has gradually increased (figure 28.1, table 28.1). Although serious drought occurred during 1978-79, droughts were mild during 1970-77. The droughts always damaged a greater area than did floods in a decade.

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