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Global issue 20

Inbox Chinese farmers swept away by ambitious water project Beijing’s growing water requirements have seen water piped to the city from more than 1,000 km away A £48-billion scheme to take water from the wet south of China to supply droughtaddled Beijing and its surrounding regions has displaced hundreds of thousands of villagers. When China announced plans to construct the world’s largest water transfer project, citizens of the affected Hubei Province were promised they would be rewarded with better lives far from their native homeland. In December 2014 water began flowing along the central route of the South-North Water Diversion project, bringing citizens of Beijing access to free-flowing faucets and delivering water that may have originated as far south as the Han River. Elsewhere, more than 300,000 people who made way for the project have been left living in inferior housing and with ruined livelihoods. © TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com Wang Yanhe was born in Danjiangkou in 1979 and made his living growing grains on his land between a small stream and a lush hillside. In 2009 he was informed that he would need to make way for the project, which would soon leave his entire village submerged under water. Yanhe and his family were given a home by the government in the Heba New Migrant Village in rural Pingdingshan, and have struggled with water shortages ever since. “Nothing is as good as before. After we arrived, we realised that the land was all dry,” he said. “So it doesn’t even matter what they promised us.” The South–North Water Diversion project was born from a vision of Chairman Mao in the 1950s, when he made the casual observation: “The south has plenty of water, but the north is dry. If we could borrow some, that would be good.” Plane crash victim, 7, hikes for help in dark The plane flown by Marty Gutzler was a Piper light aircraft © Bill Larkins (CC BY-SA 2.0 A seven-year-old girl, who was the sole survivor of an air crash, walked barefoot through woods in the dark to find help. Sailor Gutzler’s parents, sister and cousin died in the crash when a plane piloted by her father came down in Kentucky, USA. She used burning wreckage to make a torch, despite being injured herself, and eventually came upon the house of Larry Wilkins, 71, who raised the alarm. Wilkins told NBC: “I opened the door and this little girl was standing there with bloody nose, bloody legs and bloody arms. Her voice was quivering. She told me her mum and dad were dead and she was in a plane crash and the plane was upside down. “She was barefoot, only had one sock on.” Heidi Moats from the National Transportation Safety Board praised Sailor’s bravery, saying that her account would help investigators discover the cause of the accident. Schools to reopen in Liberia as Ebola infection rates fall Liberia is planning to start reopening its schools in February, after they were closed in the summer of 2014 to help stop the spread of Ebola. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made the announcement during an interview on UNMIL Radio in early January. A Ministry of Education statement said: “We ask all schools to take the necessary measures for the reopening of schools next semester, which is February. All schools have to get equipped with chlorine water, thermometers, and all have to put in place measures recommended by the Health Ministry for the prevention of the virus.” The country took various measures to reduce opportunities for the disease to spread, including limiting travel and closing markets. Infection rates are now falling. Schools have been feeling the financial burden of having to pay staff when school fees have not been coming in. The Central Bank of Liberia has stepped in to pay off the debts of private schools. n See pages 13 and 46 for more on Ebola www.global global f i rst quar ter 2015 -br ief ing.org l 5


Global issue 20
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