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December 13, 2013

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Toilet campaign cleans up rural living conditions

Pang Zhankui and his family never expected a flush toilet at home, enabling them to get rid of the latrine pit haunted by flies and mosquitoes.

“No more dirty pits and no more stinky smells. All we have to do now is push the flush button,” said Pang, a 65-year-old farmer in Cangfang Village, Gaoyi County in north China’s Hebei Province.

Pang’s family is among the 120,000 households who had their pit toilets replaced by flush toilets this year as part of a provincial campaign to improve the living environment in rural areas.

China has a rural population of 650 million. Farmers have benefited from the country’s opening up, reform, and preferential policies in past decades. However, it lags behind in living environment.

Farmers suffer from dirty pit toilets, garbage and waste water near their houses because of poor infrastructure and loose management.

“We used to throw kitchen leftovers and other garbage into the pigsty in the yard, but in recent years, when we quit raising pigs, we had nowhere to discard the garbage,” said Feng Yuezeng, a Nanlangtou Village farmer in Luancheng County, Shijiazhuang City.

In a rural environment improvement campaign, the Hebei provincial government spent 6.57 billion yuan (US$1.08 billion) this year on garbage disposal in 50,000 villages in the province. More than 120,000 workers have been hired at an annual cost of 270 million yuan to collect the trash in villages and deliver it to garbage power plants.

Zhang Baoqiang, director with the leadership office on countryside appearance innovation in Hebei, said more government efforts are necessary to address rural environmental issues.

He said the government plans to convert all pit toilets to flush toilets in the province within three years. “We only have seven years to reach the goal,” Zhang said.



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