Female role models make a mark in society

By LI HONGYANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-16 07:53
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Zhu (right) and her team test the water quality on a mountain in Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province, in 2019. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhu joined MyH2O in 2019, and she is now in charge of the organization's day-to-day operations and talent training.

The NGO's major campaigns are designed to devise and implement solutions to improve the quality of drinking water in rural communities and schools. For example, in 2019, it opened its first public welfare water station in Gangu, Gansu province, a semiarid region in Northwest China.

During the dry season, the villagers used to store drinking water in their cellars. However, it became turbid after standing for long periods, and people had to buy bottled water for children and guests during festivals.

"Water turned out to be a luxury," Zhu said.

Since the first station opened, more such projects have been implemented in dozens of villages across seven provinces, including Yunnan and Hebei.

Initially, one of the biggest challenges the NGO's volunteers faced was winning over residents in some villages. For example, when they discovered poor-quality water and made plans to install a purification station, some locals had concerns about how the move might affect the settlement's reputation.

For example, some would ask "Are you here to sell water purifiers?" or "Are you here to accuse us of not doing a good job?" or "What financial benefits will you get?"

However, thanks to the assistance of other nonprofits who were familiar with the villages, the communication problem was quickly overcome.

From 2015 to last year, MyH2O collected data and information from more than 1,000 villages in 26 provinces to further formulate solutions to improve the safety of drinking water in remote places.

"We use the data for policy advocacy. We can produce examples, papers, reports and white papers, and deliver them to the relevant government departments," Zhu said.

"We hope we can bring about a change in policy from top to bottom and solve the problem of rural drinking water on a large scale."

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