Huang Dafa, a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has spent 36 years building a canal in Caowangba village, Zunyi, southwest China’s Guizhou province, solving water shortage that had hindered the village’s development for generations.
Hidden within mountain ranges, Caowangba village (now Tuanjie village under Bozhou district of Zunyi) had long been troubled by water shortage, a crucial reason why locals were trapped in poverty.
For thousands of years, the local people mainly lived on corn, and rice was a luxury only for special occasions like the Chinese Lunar New Year, for there was not enough water to sustain the crop, as suggested by a well-known ballad in the village.
Huang was born in Caowangba village in 1935. He joined the CPC when he was 23 years old, and was elected as the chief of the village in the same year. It was at that time that he promised to build a canal for the village. Since then, the official had led his fellow villagers in struggling to open up a water channel deep in the mountains.
However, building a canal in the mountainous village was easier said than done. Due to the lack of technology and equipment, they simply conducted measurement with the help of bamboo poles; without cement, they used yellow mud on trench walls instead; and as no floodway or canal cover was built, the fragile canal would be easily ruined by floodwater.
Despite such challenges, Huang hadn’t intended to give up. Instead, he learned water conservancy knowledge and technologies on his own and from others. Whenever he heard there were reservoir and ditch projects under construction in other regions, he would rush there to seek experience.
In the spring of 1992, Huang led villagers into the mountains again for the construction of the canal. He would march into the mountains together with a team of over 200 people almost every day. A construction team drilled grooves in cliffs in the front, while villagers carried earth to build retaining walls in the back.
The hard work of Huang and his fellow villagers eventually paid off. In 1995, the 7,200-meter-long canal, with 2,200 meters of branches, began to supply water. It passes through three mountains, three precipices, and three cliffs, and spans three villages and more than 10 villagers’ groups.
On the day when the canal was officially put into use, local people crowded around it, and celebrated the hard-won success with rapturous applause, firecrackers, and a hearty feast. For villagers in Caowangba, a millennia-long dream finally came true.
When villagers asked Huang to give a speech, he was so overwhelmed with emotions that he stood there in silence for a long while and couldn’t help but shed tears of happiness and excitement.
Thanks to their strenuous efforts, villagers in Caowangba have managed to draw water from the canal, build terraced fields, and gradually shake off poverty. Today, as their income grows with each passing day, they are marching toward a happier and more comfortable life.