INTRODUCTION: More than 14 million people around the northern city of Shihchiachuang in china face starvation as a result of a long drought which shows no sign of ending.
GV PAN Gangnan Reservoir with only a few days water left.
SVs & GVs Workers attempting to repair reservoir leak. (2 SHOTS)
SV & GV Workers moving rubble with carts.
GV ZOOM OUT Reservoir.
GV Peasant carrying water. PAN TO parched landscape.
SV & GV Peasants planting and watering land. (3 SHOTS)
GV PAN Landscape.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: More than 14 million people around the northern city of Shihchiachuang in china face starvation as a result of a long drought which shows no sign of ending. For the first time since the founding of the Communist Republic in 1949 china is asking by international aid. More than 10 million dollars has been pledged by Western countries to help forty million people in two provinces -- Hebei and Hubei. The United Nations has donated vitamin pills which have been distributed to 350,000 children and pregnant women. But already more than 20 per cent of the children under three in the Hengshui area are showing the symptoms of rickets.
SYNOPSIS: The land in almost all of Hebei is parched. The huge Gangnan Reservoir, the province's biggest and the backbone of the irrigation system has just four days' supply of water left. Water is so precious that teams of workers haul earth miles to repair a leak in the reservoir wall.
Fourteen reservoirs in the province have been shot already. In the eastern part of the area 14 million peasants are said to be living on a meagre government ration of just 400 grams of maize a day. Chinese and United Nations officials fear that the situation could get worse.
Water has to be carried to the crops from a village well. If Gangnan's outflow ceases there will be only one reservoir left to supply nine million acres -- half the cultivated land.
Near the reservoir in Pingshan country, peasants are still planting crops. But goats are grazing in the empty irrigation ditches. The region ordinarily produces much of China's wheat but no rain for 18 months has reduced the area to a wilderness. No rain is expected before June.
Many areas are being left fallow. And if no rain comes soon, there will be no harvest this year.