The Stream, April 14, 2020: China Withheld Mekong River Water from Drought-Hit Downstream Nations, Study States

The Global Rundown

New research by a U.S.-based company states that China withheld Mekong river water from downstream nations last year despite drought conditions. April rainfall eases drought in California, while dry conditions intensify in Florida. Communities along the Missouri River fear spring flooding reminiscent of last year’s deluge. Zimbabwe works to improve cultural acceptance of drought-hardy crops like pearl millet. 

“Growing pearl millet in this area is a taboo. We know it is grown in other drought-prone areas, but even in times of drought we cannot grow that crop here.” —Samuel Mudziwepasi, a farmer in Mambwere village, Zimbabwe, in reference to cultural taboos around the drought-hardy crop of pearl millet, which is associated with bad luck. As a hotter, drier climate threatens maize production, however, agricultural experts and government officials say that small grains like pearl millet will become increasingly necessary. Because of this, officials are working to break the stigma around pearl millet. Reuters

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By The Numbers

2,300 miles Length of the Missouri River. The waterway experienced heavy springtime flooding last year, which damaged many communities as well as several levees. The extent of damages and repairs on the levees is unclear, and towns along the river are bracing for another round of record-breaking floods. USA Today

In context: Historic Missouri River Flood Damages Water Infrastructure

83 percent Proportion of Florida that is experiencing dry conditions, up from 67 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Over the past three months, parts of the state have registered a 4-to-6-inch rainfall deficit. Orlando Sentinel 

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study published by U.S.-based research company Eyes on Earth Inc. states that China withheld large amounts of water from downstream countries along the Mekong River last year, even as drought parched the region. China has disputed the findings, claiming that there was low rainfall along their portion of the Mekong. Reuters

On the Radar

California has wavered in and out of drought in 2020, and recent rainfall in Southern California has helped ease dry conditions once again. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the portion of the state not experiencing any drought conditions rose from 24.9 percent to 32.3 percent this week. Los Angeles Times


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