China is to provide more than 12 billion dollars in aid for farmers hit by the country's worst drought in decades, state media said Saturday.
The 86.7 billion yuan (12.7 billion dollars) relief aid will be distributed to the worst-hit smallholders and grain producers in the north and east of the country, which has been badly affected by the dry conditions, the state Xinhua news agency said.
The announcement came after Beijing this week raised its drought emergency to the highest level for the first time and sent specialists to all eight major drought-hit regions to help residents with relief supplies and technical aid.
About 4.3 million people and 2.1 million head of livestock are short of water, the relief headquarters said this week, as parts of the nation experience their worst drought since the early 1950s.
About 43 percent of the country's winter wheat supplies are at risk, as some areas have seen no rain for 100 days or more, state media said previously.
The dry spell highlights one of China's main long-term worries, as water resources are being rapidly depleted due to the country's fast economic growth.
The capital, Beijing, is particularly badly hit, with experts warning the city, home to 17 million people, will soon have reached the limit beyond which there will not be enough water to go around.
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