Roman Lahodynsky /
Dorferneuerung In China







China - Dorferneuerungsprojekt

Teilnahme am Chinaprojekt SUCCESS Sustainable Users Concepts for China Engaging Scientific Scenarios EU Contract Number: ICA4-CT-2002-10007

Workpackage I within Modul 1 (ecology) of project “SUCCESS” focussed on water resources and related ecological, socio-economic and alternative energy aspects. Resources (e.g. soil, water, energy) are of fundamental importance for a sustainable development of the communities. Therefore the solution of ecological problems provides the economical future for the villages. A major step forward could be done by contributing to alternative scenarios for the sustainable use of the environment. Objectives of WP-I were listed as follows:
  1. protection of people, infrastructure and arable land against natural hazards
  2. conservation and improved use of natural resources, e.g.water & soil (implementation of drinking water protection zones and suitable places for waste disposal)
  3. development of use of alternative energy
  4. increasing quality of life by integrative activities in the common realm and background engineering concepts (establishing technical bureaus, support for regional universities, building bridges between rural and urban population)
Field trips concerning the ecological situation of the villages Beisuzha, Sanyuan, Dujia and Xiafutou were carried out despite the very limited funds provided for the workpackage I. Because the access to regional or local geological data was limited our activities had to be restricted to the methodology of a simple geological field-survey. Our results are based on description, documentation and analyses of the underground situation, soil parameters and the hydrogeological resources as well as consideration of related ecological, socio-economic and alternative energy aspects. Because of the excellent support and cooperation with the local scientists Mr. He Jinsong (Sanyuan and Dujia) and Mrs. Lu Hongyi (Xiafutou) the data collection could be carried out efficiently. Many details of processes and interactions could be identified despite of the relatively short time for the survey. Important information was collected during our field trips and important perspectives for sustainable future scenarios in the villages could be developed.

Results achieved

The tasks of WP-I were defined in the planning phase. During the course of the project our budget was reduced drastically. After our field trip to Beisuzha it turned out that tasks 2 and 3 could not be achieved because no such private bureaus exist and regional universities are not involved in land use management. It would need much more data than we compiled during our field trips to achieve tasks 4 & 5. We therefore omitted this rigid scheme for the description of the results obtained in the later investigated villages.

BEISUZHA, Hebei Province

Task 1, Analysis, description & documentation of the underground situation.

In the flat lowlands of Hebei-province we conducted a field survey in the village of Beisuzha and its surrounding area; from the greenhouse south of the railway-dam to the clay pits and across the channel with the abandoned water pumping station to the wide dry river bed of Fuyang He. River water is exploited upstream of the region, groundwater is consumed to a hazardous and unsustainable extent. Ground water levels are falling (at a rate of 2m/year – see cross section from our previous report below) in the whole region. Despite the problems with over-fertilisation no efficient water quality and quantity control systems and no protection zones for drinking water wells seem to be installed.

  • Task 2, supporting the installation of local consulting centres in the fields of geo-engineering.
Our investigations revealed a different situation as anticipated. At the time of the activities geological and geo-technical consulting are firmly in the responsibilities of regional administration and universities. It will take more time and effort to establish private activities in the area of task 2. For the time being our support can be offered to relevant teachers, researchers or administrators.

  • Task 3, supporting regional universities.
This task is closely connected to task 2. Support to universities could be offered as guest lectures and following discussion and a delivery of the results (final report) to the regional universities.

  • Task 4, patterns of energy, traffic and raw material flow aims at a harmonization of the village and the surrounding geological conditions.
In order to achieve this task much more data than provided until now are needed. Nevertheless our below findings and recommendations already contribute to this task. Rising consumption of goods from abroad and a planned industrial area will create a growing waste problem, which can be solved stepwise and in combined ways – separation, deposition, incineration. Perhaps negotiations between the city of Hengshui and the surrounding villages can lead towards best practical solutions. The potential of gravel, sands for building purposes and less as a raw material for sealing and as a storage medium for goods should be assessed.

  • Task 5, contributions to alternative scenarios for the sustainable use of the environment, especially the questions of protection zones, development of alternative energy scenarios, can only be achieved by professional work on site including state-of-the-art expertise.
More water is used than provided by groundwater reserves. A sustainable use of groundwater cannot be achieved in a short time range. An improvement of the irrigation systems seems to be inevitable, as well as an improvement of the drinking water storage system of the village and the households. From our observations and some rough statistical data we recommend to investigate the potential of wind energy and earth heating, as well as an assessment of the different methods for using biological materials (biomass).

  • Task 6, geological strategies depend on the quality of data collected in task 1. We pointed out the main problem – unsustainable use of the water resources in the whole region.
This main problem cannot be solved in a project for a little village but needs a master plan. The problems of dry areas can only be solved on a far larger than local scale including a region of sufficient size, very likely the whole Hebei province and adjacent regions. With the cornerstones of a master plan fixed by the relevant experts of the involved provinces a strategic plan for the county and also the village of Beisuzha can be worked out.

SANYUAN, Yunnan Province

Water for Sanyuan is available from three different systems: Four springs are situated at the foot of the mountains. Their amount is less than in the ponds, nowadays they are not used for drinking water.

Within Sanyuan village, water can be reached nearly at any point by drilling 2 - 3 metres (stated by He Jiingson and the villagers) into the ground. Lao Dan Wu Dragon Pond storage system is situated in the middle of the village. The water from these ponds is distributed to each household and field through pipelines for drinking and irrigation. The amount of near surface water is used as the most important water source of the village. The pollution of the ponds is evident: All ponds are not covered and therefore exposed to pollution. Leaves, mud & waste can fall into the storage systems. Rain and surface runoff contributes to the pollution from upstream agricultural areas (chemical fertilizers, pesticides). Men and animals (dogs, ducks, water buffalos) swim in the ponds. There is also a direct channel connection from the pond Lao Dan Wu Dragon to the first pond of the washing platform. The water quality can be improved in the near future by establishing protection zones and by restoring the whole washing place to a “central meeting point of the village” with a properly designed well. The villagers told us their wishes concerning the reservoir and its use in the near future and even presented clear descriptions how the building should be changed.

Drinking water under high risk of pollution in Sanyuan

The village faces a growing waste problem, because waste is deposited in open water channels and ditches. While in the past all waste could be composted and used on the fields, a growing share of persistent and toxic materials will cause long term problems if no proper waste management can be organised. Therefore a separation of organic waste, suitable for compost, and recyclable waste should be achieved. There seems to be a high potential for alternative energy use, especially water heating pump systems. The use of water in the village is accompanied by specific socio-economic demands: in their wish to reduce their heavy workload women favour an improved facility for washing clothes instead of a bathhouse. The local population developed an integrated plan. This proposal takes into consideration not only an improvement of the current washing platform but also the multipurpose use as a local communication centre and a tourist attraction. In the long run, only water from the springs should be used as drinking water and protection areas established. These measures should be accompanied by an improved agricultural production on previously degraded slopes and a protection of afforested areas.

DUJIA, Yunnan Province

The area suffers from a serious deforestation followed by strong soil erosion. Sugarcane and maize grow on steeper slopes. Heavy rainfalls occur frequently, triggering mudflows and landslides. Water for drinking and irrigation is taken from the river. Therein the installations for the water pumps are often destroyed by the heavy sediment transport during the rainy season. During the dry season the river water disappears below a several meters thick cover of sediments. There is an input of fertilizers from the nearby fields. Quality of the river water is also affected by waste. From an open storage-tank water is distributed to the households in pipelines. Solar energy and biogas is widely used. Greenhouses of an agricultural development centre for genetically modified pumpkins are under construction. An increase of the farmer’s income is expected from new products. Bad road conditions are a major obstacle for improvement of the economic situation.

Xiafutou, Shanxi Province

The village is situated on the foothills of Taihang – mountains, which consist of carbonate rocks. Water can be collected in cisterns, taken from wells or from the river Qingtian. After a dam has been built upstream of the village, there is not enough water for irrigation, for providing drinking water from that source or for fishing and for tourist - facilities. The wells (reaching a depth of 200 meters) are out of use. The main water supply for the village is a 20 km long channel, mostly open. The water reservoir – built from stones and cement – shows cracks and is in danger of collapse. Surface water from outside can pollute the reservoir, but the open channel is used for swimming in summer. Drinking water therefore has to be cooked before use. The villagers want to benefit from the high tourist- potential of the landscape and the beauty of the village. Major obstacle is the extreme low amount of water in the river. Further, limestone is broken in quarries for cement industry. This conflict should be managed. Old quarries are used as waste disposals for ash without proper barriers. The modernisation of the local brick factory could also contribute to an improvement of the economic situation (e.g. fire clay production). The planned new bathhouse faces hygienic problems from polluted water and from nearby existing open toilets. The alternative energy potential can be developed mainly in combination of an improvement of the water situation. There is a danger from soil erosion and landslides, but sustainable use of trees and the planting of the mosquito trees - as done in the past – could improve the ecological and economic situation. Problems encountered Since universities usually apply the additional cost model we assumed to receive 100% of our eligible cost. But during the submission of the proposal IRF’s budget share was reduced to 50% by the scientific coordinator. In addition, the participants were expected to take part in all conferences and meetings, so there was not enough time reserved for carrying out detailed field surveys. Further no official maps or data could have been provided before the field study or during the local meetings & conferences. Therefore our findings are based mainly on our personal observations on site. Gaining basic information from authorities of different levels (village, county, province) was a problem during the first field visit. The establishment of a dialogue between relevant “Success” experts and regional geo-scientific experts would have been fruitful. The intended transfer of classical engineering and hydro-geological methods to local consulting offices could not take place because on the one hand such offices do not exist on a regional level and on the other hand applied geo-scientific studies are still carried out by government or universities only. We gratefully acknowledge the valuable help in future data transfer from Chinese authorities offered by MOST during our second meeting in Beijing. Unfortunately, our second travel to the villages in April 2003 has been cancelled because of the outbreak of the SARS epidemic in regions to be visited by the team. Finally our project work was successful because of a joint field trip by M. Knoflacher and G. Neuhuber in December 2004, already beyond the frames of our budget. In all Success-meetings the importance of water for the villages was addressed as an important issue – in total contrast to the underestimation of the importance of geo-scientific work in the planning phase of the project.

Technology implementation plan

Not only rural areas but also abandoned industrial areas face many problems. We assume that a combined effort of European and Chinese knowledge & experience can solve the addressed problems, therefore we would welcome a further cooperation with our Chinese colleagues. We are willing to continue our work with our Austrian partners (ARCS- Seibersdorf, BOKU and Institute of East Asian Studies) and with our Chinese partners in Beijing and Kunming, but also with other institutions. Publication and papers Our observations and findings were published in handouts during meetings, in deliverables and annual reports. We presented our results in abstracts and posters during several meetings of project SUCCESS. Among the most recent presentations: a lecture by R. Lahodynsky on “The long way towards sustainable use of resources in rural China” at the International Workshop on Strategies of Regional Development in China, IIASA, Vienna October 2004 and a poster by Knoflacher,M., Neuhuber, G. & He, J. on “Impact of Water and Related Natural Resources on Sustainable Development in the Villages San Yuan, Dujia and Xiafutou” at the Beijing meeting (2005):

Publications in scientific journals and books

A publication on the geological aspects of sustainable development in rural China is in preparation. We plan to submit this article to one of the recently re-structured Austrian geological journals. Conclusion Although the villages were situated in different climatic zones, our field surveys found similar problems. Some of these problems are of local origin and can be solved by the villagers themselves with support from the regional authorities. But there are major problems beyond the influence and capacity of the villagers, like the overall falling groundwater table in Hebei province.

Objectives of an integrated land-use management in rural areas are

  • Reduction of poverty in rural populations
  • Reduction of health risks for rural population
  • Sustainable food production for the whole population of the country
  • Sustainable water supply for the whole country
  • Preservation of biodiversity for supporting of ecological functions
It is not our intention to discuss the whole field of integrated land-use management. But a first step can be made by sustainable strategies for protection of water resources. Cornerstones of such a process could be:
  1. education and raising awareness for efficient use of natural resources in combination with improved economics and infrastructure – thus reducing poverty
  2. network of protection zones for drinking water wells and springs (including raising awareness for sensitive zones) – thus reducing health risks
  3. network of ecological waste water treatment facilities
  4. regional clusters for sufficient waste management (including adapted infrastructure for waste deposits)
  5. raising the use of the alternative energy potential. In all villages the energy balance can be improved ecologically.
Awareness of the problems exists on the higher level of administration - it should now be implemented on the lower level.