International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999
Section 2: Wordwide Experiences of Rainwater Catchment Systems
Rainwater Catchment in the Loess Plateau of Gansu,
China and its Significance
Zhu Qiang & Li Yuanhong
Gansu Research Institute for Water Conservancy
Lanzhou 730000, China
China has been facing serious water shortage problems
causing great economic and environmental losses. Water conditions are even
worse in the Loess Plateau of Gansu in the Northwest and North of the country
where runoff and groundwater are very scarce. Agriculture in this region relies
mainly on rain and large sections of the population have suffered from lack of
water for centuries. This is one of China's poorest areas. To promote social
and economic development and to improve peoples' lives, it is essential to
change water conditions. The only potential water source in this area is rain.
Starting in 1988 efficient rainwater harvesting techniques had been tested.
From 1995 to 1996, the local government implemented a "121" rainwater catchment
project, providing 1.2 million people with access to drinking water. A
follow-up rainwater harvesting irrigation project has been carried out to
change the basic agricultural conditions in the area. The Gansu experience
shows that rainwater catchment and utilization can provide an effective means
to alleviate poverty and a breakthrough for farming in arid zones.
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