Over the past two decades a quiet revolution has been taking place in the countryside of China where hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. This book focuses on some of the practical actions and clever use of appropriate technologies which have been at the heart of this positive grassroots-driven change in rural Gansu Province. Key to this has been mobilizing the population and their expeditious use of rainwater harvesting both to dramatically improve crop yields and provide households with reliable domestic water supplies. Since Gansu is semi-arid and stored rainwater a scarce resource, ingenious systems of providing crops with just the right amount of supplementary irrigation at critical periods have been developed. Challenges such as lack of fuelwood have been overcome by the development of simple low-cost solar cookers, which by focusing the sun’s rays using tiny mirrors can boil a kettle in minutes. These affordable units are now being produced at hundreds of small rural factories. The construction of low-cost greenhouses using plastic sheeting allows for the collection of rainwater and its use in efficient drip irrigation systems. By supplying vegetables and cash crops to local markets farmers have been able to repay their initial investment in under two years. The real significance of this case study is that most of the approaches described are based on universal principles of sustainable development.
Every Last Drop is recommended reading for engineers, planners, staff of NGOs, academics and students in the water, energy, and agriculture sectors.