The “art of tea” is an important part of discussing village issues in China – and in Baimei. It is a ceremony that brings villagers together to make decisions and functions as a “warm up” for the more serious conversations. When Stora Enso and Kemira representatives visited Guangxi villages to talk about the project, they were often served tea with a side dish such as cassava treats or dumplings. Serving guests with local delicacies is considered a sign of a respectful relationship in China, as is sitting down with your host to enjoy the treats before getting into business. Mutual respect builds mutual trust, an essential part of a fruitful cooperation and successful project.
Building a network of clean water
Baimei struggled with water shortages that were affecting the villagers’ main livelihood, poultry breeding. One of the main objectives of the Water Stewardship Project in Baimei was to provide better access to clean drinking water, which has now been done as the construction a 50m3 water reservoir and two smaller water tanks has been finished. The local project team has also laid water supply piping around Baimei to bring the water from the reservoirs into the village. This progress will secure sufficient water supply for personal hygiene, farming – and the art of tea.
Increased water supply will naturally lead to increased water use, and eventually to a rise in sewage that will need to be treated. Sewage piping has been put in place already, and together with supply piping, there is now a network of 5 400 metres of piping in the ground in Baimei. Sewage issues are also being addressed by building a septic tank and constructing 60m2 of artificial wetland, both of which will be finished next month. Baimei residents will also be trained to use their new water management solutions. The detailed training plan has been confirmed, and the sessions will begin later in July.