Irrigation channels are chiseled on the cliffs of mountains by Huang Dafa and his fellow villagers in Caowangba in Guizhou province's Zunyi. (Source: Xing Han/China Daily)
The water arrived in 1995.
Previously, residents lined up from morning until night to get just enough for their most basic needs from the last well.
"Other sources had dried up," the village's deputy chief Xu Zhou recalls.
"There was a rule that nobody could take too much. If they did, someone else may not have any for breakfast. These conditions motivated us."
People sometimes argued.
"Drinking water was short," Xu explains.
He started working on the channel at age 12.
"Forget irrigation. We had a 330-square-meter rice paddy that was parched to the point you could put your foot in the cracks in the dry season. It was a serious problem. So, we started looking for a serious solution."
There weren't really other options aside from doing nothing. And nothing wasn't really an option, villagers say.
That was Huang Dafa's main point.
Carving the channel across the cliffs seemed like more than an uphill battle.