Before his retirement, Wang irrigated farmland for de
nd for decades and witnessed local farmers’ continuous battles against sandstorms.
“It didn’t just feel like a black storm, it was as if the whole desert was approachi
ng,” recalls Liu Conghui, a writer who was born, and still lives, near the farm Wang once worked.
As the menacing sandstorms made the area increasingly inhospitable, Liu’s whole community planned to up sticks.
To restore the local ecosystem, the Chinese government launched
a 10.7 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) project in 2001. A set of measures were adopted such as sav
ing water, converting farmland into grassland, providing treatment for dry riverways and building dams. In addition to t
hose measures, industrial and agricultural use of water in cities and counties along the river was limited.
Over the past two decades, Xinjiang has infused 7.7 billion cubic meters of water into
the dry trunk stream of the lower reaches of the Tarim River in 19 rounds of water diversion.