OTHER THEMES IN SW COLLECTION
culture and customs
employment and income
THEMES IN NE COLLECTION
culture and customs
water in the southwest collection
Water supply and quality is a real concern of these narrators. Those who now have water piped to their villages remark on how this has changed their lives: "In the past, we went out to fetch water before dawn and hadn't come back even when the sun was high. Nowadays the water is pumped directly into the house" (China 15). In contrast, a Yi narrator (China 25) explains that this labour-intensive task still dominates the lives of women in her community: "[Women] have to fetch a bucket of water before other people get up. As soon as other people get up, they go to bring another bucket of water back… When she comes back home in the evening [after working in the fields], she has to take the bucket to fetch water again." One woman, whose village now has piped water, is shocked at the way young people forget to turn off the taps and waste precious water. They don't value it, she says, because they never experienced the hardship of life without a clean water supply.
Although the government has improved access to water, several narrators notice that changes in the environment are beginning to affect supplies. A Miao doctor (China 12) is saddened by the deforestation that has taken place in her home area: "In only two years [most trees] were cut down… I feel it isn't the place I used to live in. The places that had trees before have become fields. And the water - down there in our place in Hanpai were two big ponds, and the upper places were very good too. They have dried up now, probably because the trees are cut down."
Although she remarks on many improvements to people's standard of living in the community, not least because of the enthusiastic take-up of tobacco farming, she is aware this has come at a price - "People are rich, but the resources are used up" - and she identifies lack of water as a key obstacle to further development: "In our place, water is needed most… We pump some from the pond, but the water [pressure] is too weak. It [is] pumped up to plant the tobacco, but… [to get more water] we walk for about 10 kilometres… If there was [enough] water, we would have more than enough rice to eat" (China 12).
quotes about water
"I often blame girls who don't take care to close the tap after they have finished using water… When I see the water running, I feel heartbroken… They turn to me and say, 'What are you afraid of? We drink and don't have to pay.' I feel very sad when I hear that. Maybe because they were not the same as us, the older generation [and] they have never tasted any hardship, they don't know how to value the things they have."
Erguai, 72/F, Wa, China 10
"In the past, there were only two ponds for the whole village where we could fetch water. If someone was hardworking, his family often had water to drink; if someone was lazy, he could only drink muddy water. I often went to fetch water when the rooster had crowed once or twice."
Yeai, 52/F, Wa, China 9
"There was no water in the past. At 12, at midnight, twice you had to fetch two buckets of water. When the rooster crowed, you had to fetch another two buckets of water. Six buckets of water would be enough for a day... You don't have to walk for too long [today]. It takes less than one hour to get there. But when you come back with heavy water, it will take one full hour...."
Meixin, 45/F, Yao, China 2
"In the past, up here, this flat land was all water. The water was so deep that the buffalo could drown in it. Now people have turned it into fields… That area, up to the road [was so thick with trees] even the adults dared not to go through. Later [the trees] were cut down. Now the water has dried up."
Xuefeng, 41/F, doctor, Miao, China 12
"Drinking water was the most difficult thing [to get] before the government installed the water taps. At that time, we went to fetch water when the rooster crowed for the second time. If you didn't go early, you couldn't have clean water for drinking. Now the tap water in front of my house runs every day. It's very convenient. I do not need to worry on rainy days or in the evening, because water is always there…"
Erguai, 72/F, Wa, China 10
"…if the higher authority could help us, put the road through for us, connect the electric power for us, and draw the water up here for us, then we could have some resources, and probably we could do some work to improve our lives. If there is water, people can use it to plant some grain, feed the livestock, and for drinking - that's not bad."
Guangzhen, 45/F, Yi, China 24