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Project to Tackle Water Shortage, Pollution
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Qinghai plans to provide cleaner water for more than 1.7 million farmers and herdsman who suffer with poor supplies over the coming years, according to local official sources.


Xing Lianwen, an official with the water resources bureau in the inland province in northwest China, said that 1 million farmers and herdsmen who are suffering from water shortages or polluted drinking supplies will see improvements by the end of 2010.


"The remaining 730,000 people will be provided with adequate clean water during the period of 2011-20," the official told China Daily.


Starting from this year, Qinghai will focus its effort on water resources' development, and will further speed up construction of a number of medium and large-sized water storage and supply projects which will provide enough clean water for people, the official said.


Qinghai, the source of China's largest rivers the Yangtze River and the Yellow River, and also the source of Lancang River has total water resources of more than 62.9 billion cubic meters, among the richest water resources of provinces in China, according to Ma Shenglu, a water resources expert in Xining, capital of Qinghai province.


However, because of a backward economy and poor geographical conditions, 44.5 percent of the total number of local farmers and herdsmen 1.73 million people had either not enough water to drink or could only access polluted supplies last year, said the expert.


According to an investigation made by the local water resources authority in 2005, about 455,000 people drank water polluted with fluorine, arsenic and large amounts of pathogenic bacteria, and some 1.28 million people suffered from water shortages in the province's pastoral areas.


"The dirty and polluted water harmed our health, and illnesses made us poorer," said Zeji Gesang, a local Tibetan in Banma County.


Over the past several years, the province has been trying the tackle the problems.


From 2000-2004, the provincial government invested 550 million yuan (US$68 million) for the construction of 604 water supply projects for people and livestock in its rural and pastoral regions, Xing said.


"Those projects provided better water supplies to more than 1.35 million farmers and herdsmen in the province, and greatly improved local agricultural production and animal husbandry. The survival rate of baby livestock has risen to 80 percent at present, from 20 percent five years ago, in the pastoral areas which used to suffer from water shortages," the official said.


Zhong Gengquan, a herdsman living in Hualong, one of the poverty-stricken counties in the province, enjoyed a better water supply in early 2005 and his family enjoyed a good income thanks to an agricultural production growth because of proper irrigation.


"The better water supply did not only give us better water to drink, but also helped the vegetables in my greenhouse, which helped me to earn 8,000 yuan (US$1,000) last year for my family," Zhong said.


(China Daily February 21, 2006)

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