BEIJING(AP) -- Chinese communities devastated by deadly floods last summer need urgent help in rebuilding their water systems and farms to prevent outbreaks of disease and food shortages, U.N. officials said.
U.N. agencies working to rebuild areas destroyed by the floods, which killed 4,150 people, appealed for $42 million in new relief funds for long-term reconstruction projects. Of that amount, $18.5 million would go to restoring farms by clearing flood-damaged land, repairing irrigation works and providing fertilizer and seeds, the agencies said at a news conference.
Without such help, millions of people may remain dependent on food aid, U.N. officials said.
Kirsten Leitner, U.N. coordinator in China, said the relief efforts were focused on helping the neediest among the 180 million people affected by the floods, the worst in 44 years.
``There are lots of people who have been left to struggle on their own,'' Leitner said. ``Some people who had just been lifted out of poverty through government programs are now back to square one.''
The relief funds would also be used to rebuild water systems destroyed or contaminated by the floods, which ravaged both central and northeastern China and left millions in temporary shelters.
An early onset of cold weather in the northeast helped reduce the immediate danger of disease and sped up delivery of relief efforts once mud and water had frozen. But the region will become prone to outbreaks of typhoid, hepatitis and other epidemics once areas contaminated by tens of thousands of dead livestock thaw in the spring.
U.N.-aided programs also are under way to rebuild homes, rural factories, schools, and to construct roads to villages that were moved out of flood regions.
The U.N. relief effort will provide only a fraction of the money needed to alleviate the more than $31 billion in damage caused by the floods, Leitner acknowledged.
``Truly, the largest part of the money has to be raised in China,'' she said. The World Bank has announced a $40 million loan and $40 million in aid credits to help China rebuild.
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