Drought in Guizhou...Rain, rain, please come here.
27 Mar 2010
Less than a month ago, I wrote a photo essay about Yellow Guizhou and the beauty of the Guizhou province in the spring, but a lot has changed in this small amount of time. There has been lots of sunshine, which farmers love, but no rain for nearly 1.5 months often spells doom for farmers and crops alike. After much of China experienced record cold this winter, the spring has brought little relief with dust storms to the North and East and horrible droughts to the South and West. This comes coupled with news and pictures from my sister-in-law in North Dakota that they have been trapped in their house surrounded by sandbags and flood waters. Nature has been throwing its strongest powers of weather, earthquakes, and disasters.
Here is the story of the 2010 drought in Guizhou province and what they people here are doing to combat the lack of nature's greatest resource, water. Here is a summary of the conditions: Guizhou is a province in SW China abundant in water, from underground caves, springs and many rivers and lakes, but despite this abundance many villages are almost completely without water. Caves, watering holes, wells, and even some rivers are completely dry leaving the government to ship water into some of the hit worst villages. In many areas, the crops have had to be uprooted to be fed to the water buffaloes or burned as a source of future nutrients. Many fields are made up of only large brown clumps of dirt, barren and needing water to break them up. Some farmers have tried replanting different crops, while many are waiting and hoping for rain before China's main crop needs to be planted--rice. For that the fields need more than just a little water, they need to be flooded. So many hope and pray for rain. The government has been putting on benefits, schools are making posters urging people to wish for rain, and a several days of forecasted rain have only brought more sunshine and heat. It seems to be hopeless...
But it is not. All Chinese farmers remember or have heard stories about when life was much worse, when people were desperate for any food and this is not that bad. They also know that they have a strong weapon to fight this drought--hard work. Farmers are carrying yokes with two buckets of water or human waste to their fields several times a day--sometimes great distances. They are tending their fields by hand and making the most of what water is available. The battle is amazing, the work in the hot sun and for little profit is awe-inspiring, so they are my heroes. I love the farmers, since being born into a family with a long farming history. I know these farmers will survive this drought, because they have been strengthened by years of hard work, perseverance, and working together through past hardships.
I was able to go and help my friend while visiting his new baby, Sara. 11 days old she must stay inside, but we hooked up hoses to a pump and snaked them out to his field some 100 meters or so away. The water we pumped came from a small stream that wound through the village and was full of old garbage, dead animals, and other unimaginable diseases I would imagine. We spent all day watering his small field of potatoes that had only grown to the size of marbles under the lack of water. I did not see much difference after 8 hours, except that they stream was nearly empty of water. Then he took me to his other four fields, too far away to be watered by hoses. He thinks that he will lose probably around 5000 RMB ($700) from a budget that barely feeds himself, his wife and their small baby.
We pray for rain for the farmers and will keep you updated on the situation here. I am not sure if it is getting any coverage throughout the world as there are numerous other stories of disasters, wars, loss of jobs, and hardships. We pray for each of these events, as we know they impact real people, though they are happening so far away. God bless you!!