Hubei team helps bring clean water to mil­lions in Ghana

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By XIN WEN and LI LEI

A con­struc­tion team from Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince, has helped ease dif­fi­cul­ties in ob­tain­ing drink­ing water for nearly 8 mil­lion Africans over the past 20 years.

The team, which has pro­vided sup­plies of pure un­der­ground water, be­gan to dig the first well in Fe­bru­ary 1998, and now 4,700 wells have been built in the north­ern prov­inces of Ghana, West Africa — about the same num­ber as there are in Hubei.

De­spite a wealth of gold and ivory re­sources, Ghana’s in­fra­struc­ture had de­clined and peo­ple had rel­a­tively low liv­ing stan­dards, earn­ing the equiv­a­lent of about 10 yuan ($1.40) a day.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank, 31.9 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion was still liv­ing be­low the poverty line in 2005.

In par­tic­u­lar, some vil­lages in re­mote moun­tain­ous ar­eas found it hard to ob­tain drink­ing water, which was only avail­able dur­ing the rainy sea­sons.

Li Bao­hong, one of the ini­tial eight mem­bers of the Hubei con­struc­tion team, said the first time they ar­rived in Ghana’s Up­per East Re­gion, many women and chil­dren spent a lot of time search­ing for water.

Some chil­dren even de­vel­oped edema, an ab­nor­mal ac­cu­mu­la­tion of fluid be­neath the skin and in body cav­i­ties, due to a type of par­a­site that ex­isted in ponds, said Li, who was 29 at the time.

“We have ex­pe­ri­enced and wit­nessed cholera and malaria, which we had only read about in books,” he said. “The dif­fi­cult liv­ing con­di­tions en­cour­aged us to speed up the con­struc­tion of wells.”

Nearly 50 per­cent of the re­gions in Ghana suf­fered from lack of water re­sources, Li said.

Dur­ing the dry sea­sons, some res­i­dents could only use water they drew from ponds.

“What is worse, some ponds are used by an­i­mals and hu­mans,” Li said. “Water pol­lu­tion will have a se­ri­ous ef­fect on hu­mans.”

The de­mand for clean drink­ing water has in­creased in tan­dem with the coun­try’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The wells that have been con­structed have largely helped to im­prove peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards, with water and elec­tric pumps and over­head power lines be­ing set up.

Ghana­ians of­ten brought sheep and guinea fowls to the con­struc­tion team, Li said, adding, “We were very touched by some vil­lagers who used tra­di­tional rit­u­als to pray for the team.”

Li’s team also faced some dif­fi­cul­ties when drilling the wells. Ex­treme tem­per­a­tures took their toll on some of the mem­bers, and the lo­cal food was also a chal­lenge.

Mean­while, China has been strength­en­ing poverty re­lief ex­changes with Africa.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu Yongfu, di­rec­tor of the State Coun­cil Lead­ing Group Of­fice of Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, the coun­try has held 133 poverty re­duc­tion sem­i­nars and shared its ex­pe­ri­ence with 3,587 poverty re­duc­tion prac­ti­tion­ers from 133 coun­tries and re­gions, in­clud­ing 2,122 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 52 coun­tries in Africa.

Liu made the com­ments at the Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion 2018 in Bei­jing in Au­gust.

“China and African coun­tries have ac­cu­mu­lated rich ex­pe­ri­ence in self-de­vel­op­ment and poverty re­duc­tion. China is willing to strengthen ex­changes with African na­tions to ben­e­fit both par­ties,” he said.

The global com­mu­nity has hailed ex­changes of poverty re­lief ex­pe­ri­ences. Dur­ing a tour of suc­cess­ful re­lief pro­jects in Bi­jie, Guizhou prov­ince,

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