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Toilet renovation, life revolution
enorth.com.cn   2004-11-01 13:40


TIANJIN, Nov. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Zheng Enguang, 70, a farmer on the rural outskirts of north China's Tianjin Municipality, no longer has to walk some 40 meters to his hutong's public toilet. Recently,with funds from the local government, Zheng has built a bathroom inside his house.

Zheng was among the first group of about 350,000 farmers to benefit from the "Toilet Renovation Project" launched by the localgovernment.

The project, introduced in 2003, is expected to renovate one million latrines or rural toilets in Tianjin's outskirtan area in three years, helping more than 90 percent of rural residents to have a flush toilet at home.

In China, about 70 percent of people live either on farms or invillages. No formal waste management systems are in place for these people.

There are approximately 200 million latrines in rural areas in China, which are no more than a pit underneath or a trough runningto a storage pit at a corner in courtyards or behind the buildings,according to government statistics. This poses a sanitary problem.Health departments and sanitary experts call rural latrines a breeding ground for infectious diseases.

As part of its effort to improve the living standards of residents, especially sanitation in rural areas, the Tianjin municipal government has allocated more than 5 million yuan (about600,000 US dollars) for the project. This money will provide a 50-yuan (some 6 US dollars) in subsidy for each rural household to renovate their toilet.

Despite subsidies, it was not easy to persuade villagers to build new flush toilets, said Zhang Changshan, deputy director of a commission in charge of environment of the city.

In the traditional eyes of Chinese farmers, latrines are dirty,stink and filthy things which should not be allowed into their houses.

In Tongjiagou Village of the city's Baodi rural district, the village-level government faced strong antipathy when advising its farmers to renovate their latrines. Many village folks said they felt quite comfortable with former traditional ones.

To help change the mind of local villagers, the officials invited of the villagers to visit homes of the people who had takeadvantage of the subsidy. It turned out that kids were among the first who accepted the new life style. After coming back, all the kids were reluctant to use the former simple toilets at home and asked their parents to renovate toilets.

"But for those who didn't want to or those who really had no money to invest, we did not oblige them to do so. It's of their own free will," said Zhang. "But most farmers getting relatively affluent are willing to have a better life environment when they come to realize they could choose one."

The toilet renovation brought not only the convenience and hygiene environment for farmers, but also the improved living style as well.

In the past, the Shuigaozhuang village of the outskirtan Tianjin was notably polluted. Garbage littered the town and the village was permeated by the stench of a pool which had been abandoned idly for 40 years.

In the toilet renovation process, the local government allocated more than 500,000 yuan (some 60,000 US dollars) to cleanup the pool and planted trees around the bank, transforming it into to a lovely, green park. Enditem


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Editor: Zhang Jialu

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