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Cistern project to dampen drought

By Sun Li and Li Yingqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2013-03-12 06:35

Southwest China's Yunnan province will implement a cistern project to tackle the ongoing drought, a senior provincial official said.

Kong Chuizhu, vice-chairman of the standing committee of the Yunnan provincial people's congress and a deputy to the 12th National People's Congress, said the province is ready to launch a serious battle against the lingering drought.

A project known as "Cisterns of Love", which is about building cisterns that range in capacity from 30 to 50 cubic meters, can provide a three-member family and their livestock with sufficient water, Kong said.

Cistern project to dampen drought

Such a cistern would cost about 6,000 yuan ($950), and the money would be provided by local governments and charitable donations.

Kong said the project is the brainchild of a group of water resource experts who found that cisterns, which collect rainwater from roofs, are an efficient way to store water, especially for people who live in mountainous areas.

Several rivers including the Lancang, Jinsha and Nujiang course through Yunnan, indicating a region steeped in water wealth.

"But complicated topography that features mountainous areas make these rivers unable to solve the drought problem," Kong said, adding that about 94 percent of the province is mountainous, which increases the difficulty in constructing irrigation and water conservation projects.

The cistern project would become a strong addition to the province's hydropower development projects, Kong said.

Cao Hongmei, an NPC deputy and a villager of Lianghe county in the Dehong Dai and Jingpo autonomous prefecture, said recent high temperatures have also worsened the problem as the evaporation makes it difficult for reservoirs to retain water.

According to Yunnan's meteorological authority, the average temperature in 104 counties and prefectures is now 2 C higher than in the past.

"All my fellow villagers have to walk a dozen kilometers to fetch water from a nearby pond," Cao said. "The cistern project will definitely ease the water scarcity."

According to Kong Chuizhu, Yunnan plans to set up 400,000 cisterns annually, each with a 1,500 yuan subsidy.

Local authorities will also encourage companies to donate to the project by offering favorable tax policies, Kong said.

The severe drought, which has plagued Yunnan for four years, has hit 15 cities and autonomous prefectures, affecting 5.58 million people, of whom 1.2 million people face drinking water shortages, according to the latest provincial civil affairs department statistics.

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Guo Anfei contributed to this story.