Solving a water crisis with hoes and sweat

DROUGHT is one of the main natural disasters in Guizhou, a mountainous province in southwest China, largely due to its widespread karst topography — which means the soil has a weaker capacity to retain water.

Despite massive investment on reservoirs over the past years, residents — especially those who are living in small villages — suffered from water shortages.

To solve the problem, Huang Dafa, Party secretary of a village in the city of Zunyi, has led local villagers to get their own way of building an irrigation channel on the slopes.

The main water channel, passing along the cliffs and valleys of three big mountains, runs for more than 7.2 kilometers. Another 2.2 kilometers of branch water channels go to the three small villages on the way.

It took the villagers 36 years to finish this huge project without any technical support or mechanical equipment.

Despite of all those hardships, Huang has never been deterred by the natural obstacles.

A young man in his 20s when he first came up with the water project idea, Huang, who was then head of the Tuanjie Village, was determined to get it done with bare hands and basic tools, such as hoes, drill rods and hammers.

Now it’s payback time. The water in the channels which flows through three villages along the way helped the villagers survive the drought last year — a true grassroots solution to a long-lasting problem.

People now call the irrigation canal “Dafa Channel” in honor of Huang’s feat.