The Hakka Nanpu District is a grain producing area located in the southwest region of Hsinchu County’s Beipu Township. The water has flowed through the interwoven irrigation channels in between its rice fields for more than one hundred years since the Qing Dynasty when this area began its development, and these channels have become a source of livelihood for the district. However, starting from 8 years ago, water has started to become scarce, and what is worse, water source became sought-after during the growing season.
The village has decided not to plant for one year in order to fix the irrigation channels
Zhuang Mingcheng, the young village head who participates often in the courses by the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, as well as the Cultural Affairs Council, devotes a substantial amount of energy to the running of the district’s affairs, and hoped he can persuade the villagers to participate in the rural region restoration model program for the district. However, it was difficult for the villagers, who had suffered greatly because of the water shortage, to want to participate. What is more, they stated “the water irrigation channel problem is, as yet, unsolved. How on earth can we discuss the restoration of this rural village!” However, it is from this statement that he came up with a feasible solution.
Because of problems related to his position and responsibilities, Zhuang Mingzeng had to on one hand convince the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, who feel this work was not their responsibility, to deal with irrigation canal renovation, and, on the other hand, convince the villagers of this project’s importance as well. “I asked what they intended to do if there were those who were willing to repair the tunnel.” Zhang wanted the villagers to decide for themselves. Unexpectedly, the villagers said “if repairs are undertaken, we will not plant. Would not it be better to take a year off from planting while repairs are being made?”
The villagers knew that if there was any further delay, in the end there would be no water left. So it was necessary for them to not plant. As such, they supported the notion of letting the fields rest and cooperated without any dissension. Zhuang Mingzeng was certain everyone was serious about this matter.
Four elders immerse themselves in dredging silt from the irrigation channels
The first problem in starting the project was to decide who was going to go in and start cleaning out the tunnel, because the contractors were not willing to enter it. At this time, Zhuang Qianda, the uncle of the village head, decided to take it upon himself. He called upon fellow villagers Zhou Yuanrui, who worked as a coal mining supervisor when he was young, and Xiao Yanfang, who is the ripe old age of eighty, as well as Li Muhua from the neighboring village. Together, the combined age of these four persons was exactly three hundred. Surprisingly, they comprised a team which was strong and perseverant enough to get the job done. These hale and hearty elders put themselves wholeheartedly into digging for two months. Finally, they were able to completely clear out the silt from the 1300 meter long tunnel.
In October of 2009 construction started and the water channel was opened in February 2010. In all, the period of construction was more than four months less than originally estimated. The selfless wisdom provided by these elders not only allowed for the water channel to be restored, it also drew more young people to come back to the village, their hometown, and provided momentum for the passing down of this heritage to the future.