Climate Change Brings Multiple Challenges for Chinese Citizens, Especially the Villagers

Spotlight Activity: Climate Change Brings Multiple Challenges for Chinese Citizens, Especially the Villagers

With a huge population, many in China have experienced challenges from climate change. The two most serious problems influenced by climate change include food security issues and water shortages. Habitants in rural areas are more vulnerable to the changing climate compared to the urban population, especially for the peasant tillers.

Food security is being threatened for many people in China caused by rising temperatures. Food production and climate conditions are highly linked. Increases in the average temperature, extreme weather, and ecological damages pose challenges for food production. Wei Xiong, a researcher at the Institute of Forest Ecological Environment and Protection in China, has found that there has been a decrease in rice yields in China  associated with climate change.  

Unlike farming industries in the U.S., the majority of Chinese farmers have much less land. Many are subsistence farmers who rely on rice, wheat, and vegetables as their main source of food. With climate change decreasing food production, selling surplus food cannot guarantee a steady income. Some farmers need additional jobs in the city in order to make enough money for other groceries. As a result, many lands are being abandoned.  China has tried giving subsidies to small farmers, but more support is needed.

Water shortage is another problem brought about by climate change. In China, more than 25 percent of villagers have no access to tap water. For them, water is collected from wells and streams.  “In 1990 one well in the village of Xishanwu, in Shangrao, Jiangxi, for example, could take care of 300 villagers,” says Songxi Li, an elder in Xishanwu. Nowadays, with the increased drilling for water and the decrease in rain frequencies wells are drying up. “When it rains, there are too many waters on the ground. The vegetables are dying,” says Li. What’s more, water in many of the wells are not safe to drink as it is polluted by nearby industries.  

There are many villages like Xishanwu across China. In Guangdong province, for example,  around 11% of villagers have no access to tap water even though the average living standard in Guangdong is among the highest in China.

In conclusion, the most vulnerable population to climate change are those living far away from cities. The government needs to provide more support to mitigate the impact of climate change on these people.

Status: Standing Still

China has been working hard on building infrastructure. However, the focus of the government’s efforts has been on urban environments and less attention is paid to those that live in rural areas. Although there are many efforts being done for food and water security, action needs to be accelerated. 

Take Action

Dear National Water Control Bureau, 

Thank you for setting plans in 13th Five-Year Plan to increase tap water accessibility to 80%. However, the influence of climate change is fast approaching and we need you to take further action. Water in many wells and streams are no longer safe for villagers to consume.  Please pay more attention to the needs for rural residents to have access to safe water.

Send Action Alert Message to:

Jingping Er

Secretary and Minister of the Party Group of the Ministry of Water Resources


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