Project Locations: Sichuan

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Located in southwest China, SICHUAN is one of China’s largest provinces both geographically and in terms of population. Bordered by the Tibetan Plateau in the west and by the Three Gorges and the Yangtze River in the east, Sichuan is known for its cultural diversity and as being the home of China’s giant panda with an estimated 75% of their population residing its mountain ranges. This area is also one of the botanically richest in the world, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora in over 1,000 genera being found here.

Geographically, Sichuan can be split into two very distinct areas: in the east is the fertile, subtropical lowlands of the heavily populated Sichuan basin, where several rivers converge to flow into the middle reaches of the Yangtze River; in the west is the Hengduan mountainous region, forming the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau and stretches up to heights of over 7000 metres.

• Water School for a Living Yangtze

Of the 52 schools currently taking part in the Water School programme across China, 11 are in Sichuan. One of these schools is Beichuan Middle School, who joined in August 2008 just months after being severely hit by the 2008 earthquake. In promoting active student participation in the reconstruction of local ecosystems and revitalization of the local Qiang culture, students have a positive and constructive role in rebuilding their communities. Mr. Tang, a teacher at the school explains some of the benefits of the project:

“The field study of Tangjiashan Barrier Lake allowed students to conduct their own on-site investigations and identify real community issues which link with their textbooks. Furthermore, it has given students a holistic view of ESD and water-related community activities, as well as improving skills for coping with natural disasters.”

• Earthquake Relief

On 12th May 2008 a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan and caused severe damage to many of the schools participating in the Water School for a Living Yangtze programme. While teachers and students managed to get away unharmed, school buildings were severely damaged and became completely unusable. Swarovski Water School and Shangri-la Institute have been working with local partners to initiate long-term re-development in the earthquake affected area, including reconstructing physical infrastructure, providing teaching equipment, supporting the redevelopment of local ecosystems, and providing counselling and capacity building support. Two specialised Water Education Centres have also been developed as part of the relief efforts in the Sichuan region; one at Mianyang Teacher’s College and one at Xianhai Central Primary School.

More detailed information on our work on Sichuan Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction can be found here.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)