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Water project a shower of good
By Ying Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-22 01:02

Farmer Li Cuiqin took her first shower in early November -- the first since she got married and settled down three decades ago.

The 52-year-old from Xia'anmen Village of Dingbian County, Southwest China's Shaanxi Province, lives on the Loess Plateau, one of the country's driest areas.

Li had to walk more than one hour to collect water from a spring where dozens of local people queued day and night.

But thanks to the Mother Water Vault Programme conducted by the China Women's Development Fund under the All-China Women's Federation, a water vault was built in Li's yard two months ago to collect rainwater.

"We suffered enough from water shortages and could see no end," Li said, She, like many of her fellow farmers, suffers from serious disease and arthritis from drinking fluorine-loaded saline water from local water sources.

"Now I have seen hope because I have [cleaner] water," said Li, who has also started to plant vegetables in her yard and raise a sheep.

Rainfall has become the only water resource of Li's and other villages in northern Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia in Northwest China, and Yunnan in Southwest China, where the China Women's Development Fund has helped local farmers build underground vaults to collect rainwater.

A typical water vault has a big catch basin -- about the size of the yard floor which was covered with cement. Rain waters inks from two or three holes through pipes to the basin below.

After sedimentation and purification, the summer's rainwater collection can provide drinking and irrigation water for family for almost a year.

The Mother Water Vault Programme has realized adequate water supply in hundreds of villages in mountainous areas in western China, covering a rural population of roughly 1 million people since 2001, said Qin Guoying, deputy secretary general of the China Women's Development Fund.

"Most of the fund comes from donations from enterprises and individuals," Qin said.

PepsiCo (China) is one of the multinationals that has participated in the programme since 2001.

The US soft drinks company has donated more than 2 million yuan (US$240,000) to build more than 1,400 water vaults in Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi province in the past three years, helping more than 11,000 people.

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