The Chinese government has rolled out a major program to give
160 million rural people access to reliable supplies of safe
drinking water over the next five years.
The plan approved on Wednesday at a meeting of the State Council
chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao gives priority to rural areas where
drinking water was tainted by fluorine, arsenic, salt, pollution,
and the schistosoma worm, which causes the disease
Smaller ethnic minority groups, rural schools, and people
displaced by the construction of reservoirs also top the
The plan includes "comprehensive measures", including the
protection of drinking water sources, waste treatment, improved
water quality monitoring, and water conservation awareness
By the end of 2005, the government had improved drinking water
supplies to more than 280 million rural people, according to
The central government, however, asked local governments to make
clean drinking water for the people a top priority as the problem
remains "prominent" in some rural areas.
The rural drinking water safety program would mainly be funded
by the government, though various non-governmental sectors are also
encouraged to contribute.
At least 300 million rural residents in China have no access to
safe, clean drinking water, and only 31 percent of rural toilets
reach hygiene standards, according to the Ministry of Health.
(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2006)