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  • From dirty to clean: a tale of Xinjiang drinking water
    2017-07-12    source:Xinhua    author:

    Yarmamat Islam has taken water from three different sources: flood pits, water towers and taps.

    For residents living near the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang, access to water all year round has never been easy. Compared with his ancestors, Yarmamat is one of the lucky ones.

    Flood pits: Dirt and disease

    When Yarmamat was a child, his parents and fellow villagers would divert summer floods into pits in the ground. The village would depend on water stored there from June to November.

    This was the way people in Hotan Prefecture had survived water shortages for hundreds of years.

    Not only people, but household animals such as donkeys and sheep also drank from the pits. As time went by, animal waste, fallen leaves and litter accumulated in the pits. The water turned green and foul.

    Villagers had to remove the waste when fetching water and let it settle before boiling it. Even so, the dirty water meant villagers suffered from typhoid, dysentery and cholera.

    Such difficulties with water were a major hurdle in tackling poverty.

    Flood pits were still a common scene Hotan villages until the 1990s.

    "No matter if it was diarrhea or goiter waiting ahead, we had no choice but to drink from the flood pits. They guaranteed the survival of our ancestors and us," Yarmamat said.

    Groundwater: Happiness begins to flow

    In the 1980s, the central government launched a campaign to drill wells, build water towers and lay pipelines to solve the drinking problem.

    Due to a harsh natural environment and weak economy, the campaign in Hotan progressed slowly. Many farmers still heavily depended on flood pits.