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The Women's Water Source Protection Team

In Linshi Village, to the north-west of Chengdu, there is a group of 12 special female troops. Like many rural women, they plant flowers and vegetables and tend to their gardens. However, they also serve another important role in the community. For a long time, they have volunteered to protect the area’s rivers, water sources, and the environment. They voluntarily clean rubbish from the rivers, routinely inspect the rivers, promote environmental protection both within and outside their community, and work to develop ecological agriculture. This is the Women’s Water Source Protection Team.

 

“Protecting water is protecting our homeland; this is our mission.”

 

Linshi Village is situated in the upper reaches of the Botiao River, which provides drinking water for Chengdu city. It lies in a protected area, 5km away from Chengdu Waterworks. The lifestyles and production methods of this village’s residents have a direct impact on the quality of Chengdu residents’ drinking water.

 

Originally, Linshi Village was the same as other villages: women mostly stayed at home, looking after the house, planting crops, selling their produce at the market, and events that happened in the community had little impact on their daily lives. They took the flowers and vegetables that they grew to the market, used chemical fertilisers on the ground, and were largely indifferent to people throwing rubbish into the canals, occasionally complaining that the water was getting dirtier and dirtier, but rarely cleaning it up themselves.

 

Change started at the beginning of 2016. CURA started river source protection work in Linshi Village, and groups of women from the village began to attend meetings on ecological village construction, as well as workshops on environmentally-friendly fermentation and ecological households. They went to other ecological villages to look at how they functioned, and attended public campaign events.

 

Leaving their homes meant that these women’s view of the world was broadened, their minds were inspired, their environmental conscience and sense of duty towards society became stronger. They paid attention to their community’s environment, and became more enthusiastic about attending environmental activities.

 

“For our families’ health, we need a good ecological environment. Our home needs us to protect it.”

 

August 2016                 8 women started doing daily patrols of the river

September 2016         12 women formally founded the Water Source Protection Team, not only patrolling rivers, but also working to promote environmental protection amongst village residents.

November 2016          At the first Women and Community Ecological Environmental Protection Forum, Pidu District Water Affairs held the banner of the Water Source Protection Team.

February 2017            The Water Source Protection Team held their first promotional event in Tangyuan Town to recruit volunteers.

March 2017                 Pidu District Women’s Federation awarded the Water Source Protection Team the title “Pidu District Female Volunteers.”

April 2017                   The Water Source Protection Team produced a program on Sichuan Radio and TV Station’s news channel, focussing on water source protection.

 

In March 2017, the Water Source Protection Team set up “Linshi Village Water Environments Education Centre,” as their base. Located just 150m from the Botiao River, it is also known as “Water Source Home.” With the support of the government and village council, villagers donated an old house to be converted through the combined effort of the Min River Protectors, the Women Water Protectors and villagers. The centre retains characteristics of Western Sichuanese agricultural buildings, but they have also added environmentally-friendly aspects such as a manmade wetland system, ecological toilet and a methane digester. They promote the idea: “Know Water, Love Water, Protect Water”. An important community space, it assembles the power of local and city-based river protectors, and has become the home of water source protectors.

 

“By defending the Botiao River, we are thinking about those in the lower reaches. People in the city need to drink, and we need to look after this water properly.”

 


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