China Focus: China's "toilet revolution" brings high-tech facilities to rural areas

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-29 13:10:54|Editor: Yang Yi
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SHIJIAZHUANG, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- For months, Feng Xiumin's house in Yueliang Village, Hebei Province has been a "must-see" for visiting relatives and friends.

The first thing they want is the "toilet tour."

"'Let us see your fancy, high-end toilet!' they all say when they arrive," Feng said.

Feng's "fancy, high-end toilet" is one of the vacuum toilets authorities installed for Yueliang's residents. By May, all the village's toilets had been replaced with vacuum ones, with no more of the stinky, fly-infested dry squat toilets with tanks underneath they previously used. When the project was completed, more than 400 families lit firecrackers to celebrate.

Vacuum toilets were first installed on airplanes. They were later used in vehicles with limited space and a shortage of water, such as ships and high-speed trains, said Fu Yanfen, with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The vacuum toilets in Yueliang Village are based on a similar design," Fu said. "First, you press a button to suck the air out, and then you press another button to get rid of the waste."

The "toilet revolution" in Yueliang is just one part of a broader picture.

In 2015, the National Tourism Administration began a three-year program it called a toilet revolution, planning to install 33,000 new toilets and upgrade another 24,000 existing ones across the country, to provide sufficient clean, free, well managed toilet facilities for the public.

During the past few years, the revolution has been extended to rural parts of the country, including Yueliang.

China's high-speed trains usually have 16 vacuum toilets; in Yueliang, each family has two, said Feng Guochao, the village Party secretary.

"That means almost 800 vacuum toilets have been installed," the secretary said.

A 20-km vacuum pipeline has been built, and all waste water, including some from the toilets, is transferred from that into the municipal pipeline, according to Feng Guochao.

"Some of the human waste from the toilets is collected to make organic fertilizer," he said.

According to figures released by the State Council, China's cabinet, toilet revolution in rural China is speeding up. The rate of clean toilets in the countryside has increased from 71.7 percent in 2012 to 80.4 percent in 2016, significantly improving rural sanitation conditions, lowering the concentration of flies and mosquitoes, and effectively preventing the spread of some diseases.

Built more than 1,700 years ago, Yueliang is a well-known village in the city of Jizhou. It is the ancestral home of the Feng family, which has produced many famous figures in history.

Local authorities wanted to use tourism to power Yueliang's economy, but poor hygiene standards remained a stumbling block.

"The development of the tourism industry depends on having a good environment," Feng Guochao said. "Only by achieving a clean environment can we truly encourage more tourists to come."