Drought worsens China’s long-term water crisis

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HEXINGTEN, China — The corn has grown to only half its normal height on Yan Shuqin’s ranch in the hills of Inner Mongolia this year, as a swath of northern China suffers its worst drought in 60 years.

The ruddy-faced woman said that even before the rains stopped, the groundwater in her region had been sinking, from 20 meters (about 70 feet) below the surface just a few years ago to as much as 80 meters (260 feet) this past summer. While she can still eat and sell the corn, lettuce and other vegetables on her farm, the yield has shrunk.

“If the grass doesn’t grow and the vegetables die off, who’s going to be able to live here?” Yan asked outside her family’s spotless two-room house. “My mother and her mother lived here. My family has always lived here. What are my children going to do?”

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