The central government plans to provide 16 million more rural
residents with access to safe drinking water by 2004, said
Vice-Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei.
said the endeavor follows the government's successful five-year
(1998-2002) project to provide drinking water for about 34 million
poverty-stricken rural residents.
Chen said the government's new project will help bring water to
residents living mainly in ethnic minority areas, old revolutionary
base areas, border areas and destitute areas in the central and
western regions of China and help them escape poverty.
his opening speech at yesterday's forum on irrigation agriculture
and poverty elimination organized by the Centre for Chinese
Agricultural Policy, Chen also expressed his concern about China's
Out of 85,000 reservoirs of varying size nationwide, nearly 35 per
cent have been found "unsafe and damaged.''
The leaking reservoirs have brought great loss to farmers and some
of them have to turn to crops other than rice, because of water
The experience of a farmer named Ju Hua in Sichuan Province is a
recent years, Ju's family, located in the province's mountainous
Tongjiang County, has continuously suffered from drought and water
shortage in rice planting season because the two small reservoirs
in his village have become essentially useless over the years.
"Usually, pouring rain comes during July and August after the rice
planting season but the flood water is lost as runoff, with none of
it being stored in the reservoirs," said Ju, whose family planted
nearly one-third hectare of rice in 1995 but have now shifted to
Chen said his ministry is stepping up efforts to shore up the
reservoirs, which are not only essential to the harvest of farmers'
crops but also a threat to residents living below them in their
Chen said the central government has invested 178.6 billion yuan
(US$22 billion) over the past five years in water conservation
projects to fight against drought and flooding, strengthen
reservoirs and provide adequate water for animals and human
Chen said controlling water and soil erosion are urgent tasks in
China, if the country is to rehabilitate the environment.
Erosion caused by water, wind, freezing and melting and gravity --
for example, landslides and mud-rock flow -- has affected 3.56
million square kilometres of China's land or 37 per cent of its
total territory, a recent survey has found.
far, severe water and soil erosion and the consequent ecological
degradation have not been slowed.
Land degradation and desert encroachment caused by water and soil
erosion tends to be worse in areas where land is scarce and the
population is growing.
(China Daily September 2, 2003)