Located on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, villages in Baohua Township in Liupanshui City suffer from serious desertification, which make it hard to store water despite abundant rainfall.
“Many families wouldn’t clean their dining tables for a long period of time,” said Zhang Jianxing, 33, from Shega, one of the villages.
The situation has changed since a water supply project has brought them not only tap water for drinking but also industry at their doorstep.
While China aims to eradicate absolute poverty and achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the end of 2020, the country has invested heavily to improve infrastructure in less developed rural areas so that residents there can have access to modern facilities. THE GIFT OF WATER
Huang Mingju, a villager of Shega, recalled a time when water was so precious that villagers would present a bucket of water as a wedding gift.
“The gift was delivered one day in advance to ensure the water could be used during the wedding ceremony,” Huang said.
In the early morning, villagers patrolled all over the mountains to find water from muddy hollows, even the footprints of cattle.
After the road conditions improved, villagers hired farming vehicles to fetch water 10 km away at the cost of 100 yuan (about 15 U.S. dollars) to 200 yuan per tonne.
“Drivers were unwilling to take our orders as they had to change their tires frequently because of the poor road to the village,” he said.
Huang Bi, from Erdaoping Village, said when her family was building a new house 10 years ago, they spent over 6,000 yuan buying water for drinking and construction. The water was preserved in a pond lined with a mulch film, which they soon discovered was not watertight.
“The water all sank into the ground overnight. I couldn’t hold back my tears,” said the 46-year-old. INDUSTRIES FOSTERED
Since 2016, Baohua Township has poured nearly 63 million yuan into a drinking water project. It has installed over 680 km of water pipes, providing drinking water for over 8,750 households.
The water was pumped from a reservoir over 10 km away, rising nearly 600 meters up the mountainside before being distributed to every household via the pipeline network, said Huang Changhua, Party chief of the township.
Ma Keming, who previously worked in east China’s Zhejiang Province, returned to Shega Village in 2011 and began to raise pigs four years later.
“I have increased my number of pigs to 100, as water is no longer a problem,” said Ma, 32, adding that his pig farm is expected to bring him a net income of about 100,000 yuan this year.
The township also spent more than 1 million yuan to convert a deserted primary school into a workshop featuring Miao ethnic culture. The workshop, engaged in embroidery, instrument manufacturing and the traditional skill of batik, has brought 30 jobs to the village.
In 2019, the township was lifted out of poverty as its poverty rate dropped to 1.33 percent from 28.47 percent in 2014.
“As the targeted poverty alleviation efforts are close to securing victory, we have to timely strengthen the weak links,” said Li Yong, head of the township.
Since 2016, Guizhou Province has poured over 5.3 billion yuan into drinking water projects in rural areas, while 90.2 percent of its rural population now has access to tap water.