The crop yields of Gansu Province in China have long been at the whim of the environment. New rainwater harvesting techniques have helped farmers ‘control’ the rain and reap the benefits.
The 1-2-1 Rainwater Catchment Project initiated in Gansu Province, China has been running for 10 years now. The remarkable growth – now over 2 million people have benefited – has been charted in earlier editions of Waterlines. This article reports on the impact the project has had in this remote and arid region of north-west China and beyond, as well as the challenges still remaining.
Rainwater harvesting (RWH) has been widely practised in China for centuries. The modernization and rapid spread of RWH and accompanied low-cost greenhouse and low rate irrigation (LORI) techniques since the late 1980s has helped to address water shortages and lift millions of families out of poverty in semi-arid provinces such as Gansu. The construction of terraces, contour bunds and micro-catchments has also contributed significantly to soil and water conservation, revegetation and ecological restoration of previously degraded land. This article provides an update on developments relating to a major RWH programme in Gansu Province, China, and follows three previous contributions published by the authors in Waterlines in 1995, 2000, and 2006. It also provides an overview of the book Every Last Drop: Rainwater Harvesting and Sustainable Technologies in Rural China, published by Practical Action in 2012