The central government and local governments will invest a total of 8 billion yuan (US$1 billion) in 2006 to tackle drinking water shortages and guarantee water safety for 20 million Chinese living in rural areas.
"The central government will provide about 4 billion yuan and the local governments will provide the rest," an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in Beijing Tuesday.
The Chinese government's comprehensive measures include providing clean water, protecting the environment and giving hygiene education to rural residents. The aim is to ensure the safety of the drinking water supply for Chinese living in rural areas.
The NDRC, the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Health are working on a drinking water safety project for the 11th Five-Year Guideline (2006-2010).
Between 2000 and 2005, China invested 23.5 billion yuan to solve drinking water issues. About 71 million people in China's vast rural areas have been relieved of drinking water shortages.
According to the NDRC, "measures taken to solve drinking water shortages and safety issues have improved the health of Chinese living in the countryside and boosted the economic and social development of China's rural areas."
(Xinhua News Agency January 19, 2006)