The World of Chinese
THE NUMBER OF CHINESE LIVING ON FLOODPLAINS IS ACTUALLY INCREASING, AMOUNTING TO 453.3 MILLION AS OF 2015
levels this year, there have been far fewer casualties. The death rate this year is more than 50 percent lower than the previous five-year average, and the number of houses destroyed 68.4 percent lower, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Still, affected residents worry about rebuilding their lives once the flood water recedes. In Wuwei,
“at the moment, [the authorities] haven’t said if there will definitely be compensation,” says Liu, who has lost 4,000 square meters’ worth of crops and numerous chickens.
Furthermore, climate change is likely to increase the risk of flooding in the future. A joint Oxford-harvard study estimated that economic losses due to flooding in China could rise by 82 percent in the next 20 years. And the number of Chinese living on floodplains is actually increasing, amounting to 453.3 million as of 2015. “As long as you develop flood plains, there will be a risk of flooding. Any flood prevention project, including those that are based on nature, can only reduce the risk; it can’t eliminate it,” says the Nanjing professor.
Moving away may be the only option to guarantee safety, but most are unwilling. “We’ve already lived here for decades,” says Liu. “I’ll think about it if it happens again. But I hope there isn’t a next time.”