Ziyang County in Sichuan province is not only one of the poorest in China, but it also suffers from a water shortage like other regions in the southwest. Over the last few years, most of the existing wells in the village are either contaminated or have dried up.
“In the past, villagers had to fetch water. During the drought season, they have to go fetch and walk back from a long distance, which is tough,” said village head Ji Hongli.
But since December 2009, Singapore non-governmental organisation, Mercy Relief has stepped in by boring new wells supplying potable water to five villages within the township.
The water is delivered to each of the 574 households through a new piping system.
Clean, drinking water has been made available for every household under the purview of Mercy Relief’s development project at Dong Feng. Photo: Mercy Relief
Villagers are not just grateful for having access to safe drinking water.
“Washing the clothes with the clean water is good as we won’t feel itchy after putting them back on. In the past, we sometimes get little spots on our bodies and we keep scratching them,” said one villager.
“In the past, the water had sediments so we had to let it sit for a while. The top portion was used for cooking and washing vegetables, while the cloudy layer was used for washing our feet and feeding the livestock,” said villager Chen Shifang.
Now with extra water for their livestock, villagers are able to have more of them, thereby increasing their earnings.
Incomes are expected to rise by about US$60 a year – not an insubstantial increase in an area where annual incomes are about US$300.
“We had to dig deep into the earth to get water, and to pump the water up, which means that they could get water easily, not only for their own drinking and cleaning, but also for their fields,” said Abdullah Tarmugi, Mercy Relief advisor.
The project was developed with assistance from the local poverty alleviation foundation at a cost of over US$200,000.
Prior to Mercy Relief’s project implementation in December 2009, the 1,025 villagers of Fei’e Village were living in an unfavourable sanitation environment where human and animal excrement were not managed properly – a hygiene issue exacerbated by the prevalence of open-pit toilets. Through the installation of biogas digestors serving all 224 households, an efficient waste management system was thus developed where the excrement is stored in the digestors underground and used to harvest biogas fuel, which is used as alternate fuel for cooking and lighting via the provision of biogas cookers and lamps. The residue excrement from the digestors is also used to fertilise the villagers’ crops – their main source of income.
This has generated savings for the villagers, from not having to use electricity from the grid for lighting, and encouraging them to abstain from the environmentally-unfriendly practices of buying coal and wood for cooking and chemical fertiliser for farming. More importantly, the project has revamped the sanitation environment to minimise the outbreak of epidemics.
Besides lighting and cooking, the residu excrement in the biogas digestor is used to fertilise the villagers’ crops. Photo: Mercy Relief
Source: Maria Siow, Channel News Asia, 01 Jul 2010 ; Mercy Relief, 17 Jun 2010