Water scarcity is rapidly becoming a global concern, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Billions lack access to proper wastewater management and sanitation. These water management concerns are both a health and an economic issue for private households. And since water is an essential and irreplaceable element in the production of nearly all industries, there is not only a personal but a business interest to find solutions to water-related challenges.
Stora Enso and Kemira, a global chemicals company, recognize that global issues can only be addressed by solving local ones. The companies started a three-year water stewardship initiative in Guangxi province in Southern China in November 2013. The project brings together Stora Enso’s knowledge of tree plantation management, Kemira’s world-class know-how in water quality management, and Guangxi communities’ practical knowledge and experience in local water issues. We work closely with local authorities, non-profit organisations, and residents, creating shared value for all participants.
The initiative began with a baseline survey of nearly 1 000 households in rural Guangxi to discover the most pressing water management challenges in the area. Water monitoring and awareness-raising events have been organized by our local partners.
All villagers are actively involved in all pilot project efforts. Here, Baimei village residents are finishing the construction of a 50m3 water storage tank in May 2015. Before the project, Baimei suffered from water shortages caused by insufficient water storage facilities and water supply piping. The Water Stewardship Project is an attempt to bring relief.
Unique pilot projects testing the waters
The water stewardship project strives to bring about lasting change. In addition to raising awareness of responsible water use, we hope to achieve this through pilot projects in three Guangxi villages that applied and were chosen as sites for water management improvements. The villages are committed to being actively involved in the designing and construction of the technical solutions needed and to learning how to use them correctly and efficiently. This commitment is vital to the long-term success of the pilot projects.
Guangxi is rich in rainfall and rarely suffers from drought, but villages in its rural areas face other types of water management dilemmas. Many of them lack coherent sewage systems or proper water supply piping. Outdated knowledge and harmful traditions concerning water use is another common issue. The three pilot project villages in Guangxi, Nahupo, Shengping, and Baimei, all have different water-related challenges and were provided with tailor-made solutions to those challenges.
Construction of all pilot projects started in April and May of 2015, bringing along clean drinking water and high quality wastewater management systems to about 2 600 villagers. Ideally, this project model could be applied to other villages in Guangxi by local authorities once the water stewardship initiative is completed – improving the quality of life of even more people.
Wetlands are natural water purification systems. In the village of Nahupo, an artificial wetland is being built as part of a comperehensive but natural wastewater system.