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Health Project Tibet, China

The SRC Health Project in China, Tibet Autonomous Region (since 1988) Water scarcity and lack of water quality contributes to the daily hardship of the Tibetan people. Until today most rural families collect water from streams which is unsafe for human consumption. During the long winters water sources are often unusable because of frost. Following a request of local communities in Shigatse, water, sanitation and hygiene activities were added to the longstanding primary health care program in 2003. The SRC works with villages to build gravity fed water systems, hand-dug wells as well as bathhouses for boarding schools. The construction of water systems is always combined with health and hygiene promotion as part of the health promotion cycle for communities and schools. The beneficiaries participate actively in the selection of the water supply options and the location of distribution points. SRC assists the setting-up of village health committees, who oversee operation and maintenance. The beneficiary population also hosts the construction teams and provides labour and local material. The main challenges for water supply in Tibet are extreme weather conditions and the lack of technical support to the communities for the maintenance of the water supply. To address this issue, the SRC promotes innovative technical solutions against frost, such as thermal protection of water points with greenhouses or the modification of the locally made hand pumps to reach frost-free groundwater layers.