In the dead of winter or the height of summer, people from the rural villages of Chongqing Province walk long distances, traverse risky terrain and brave the natural elements everyday to collect and carry home fresh water on their backs. During the annual drought season, these difficulties are made worse with the number of fresh water sources dwindling and consequent distances necessary to travel increasing.
For these villagers, collecting water was a dangerous yet necessary task. Zhang Qiong, a 35-year-old housewife from Shi An Village knows this all too well. When Ms. Zhang was 12, her father died when collecting water for the family. “My father was carrying the buckets when he fell in and drowned. He may have slipped or fainted because of the summer heat.”
Through a collaboration between Lien AID and the China Association of Poverty Alleviation and Development (CAPAD), communities living in four rural villages including Shi An now benefit from an improved access to safe water. A total of eight water storage tanks were built, with one village also equipped with a filtration tank and five decompression tanks for further water treatment. Water distribution systems were also erected, with all homes now able to receive piped water. Good hygiene practices were also shared with these communities.
Strong community involvement and commitment is fundamental in ensuring the sustainability of the water project. For Shi An Village, 27-year-old Zhong Enkui played a key role in bringing improved access to safe water for the community. He is a college graduate who is working as a Student Village Officer (“SVO”) at Shi An focusing on improving the livelihood of these villagers. He attended the SVO training programme run by CAPAD, which focuses on how to alleviate poverty through activities linked to economic development.
As part of the training programme, Lien AID provided lessons on water and sanitation project management to the SVOs. It then gets trainees to suggest projects. Suitable ones are carried out, with Lien AID providing part of the funding. “I knew the problems in Shi An village, but I did not know of the possible solutions. The training sessions gave me new ideas.” Additionally, the Chinese authorities and villagers also provided some funds needed for the project.
With the completion of the projects at these four villages, an estimated 4,582 villagers are now able to access clean water from their homes and Lien AID continues to train SVOs and initiate new projects at poverty-stricken villages in China.
“Water is essential to life. Without clean drinking water, one can’t survive, let alone work,” said Ms. Zhang. “So if you don’t even have water, what’s there to talk about for economic progress and development?”
To find out more about our programme in China, take a look at our Village Water Management Programme.