As China presses ahead with the "toilet revolution," more rural households have been freed from using dirty and shabby latrines and turned to cleaner and renovated flush toilets.
However, when the toilet revolution swept a mountain village in southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2018, it lacked support from villagers who had lived in the impoverished backwater area for generations, said Mao Zhenfang, head of the women's federation of Gongyi Village in Shimian County. She persuaded 40 families in the village to transform their dry toilets into flush ones last year.
Mao, also a delegate to the National People's Congress, said after noting the greatly improved sanitary condition due to the toilet renovation, more residents flocked to join the government-supported project to upgrade household toilets.
"Only after rural residents have access to sanitary toilets can the country's vast rural population enjoy a better living environment," she said.
According to the government work report delivered to the annual session of the national legislature on March 5, the government will work to improve rural living environments in light of local conditions, make progress in the toilet revolution, and improve garbage and sewage treatment to build a beautiful countryside.
The country launched the toilet revolution in 2015 to increase the number and sanitation of toilets at tourist sites. The campaign was expanded to improve public toilets in cities and build better toilets in rural areas.
In January, a more ambitious goal was set to achieve more noticeable progress across the country.
Toilets for rural households in the country's eastern regions and mid-western city outskirts should "basically" go through pollution-free renovations by 2020, with toilet waste to be "effectively" treated or utilized by 2022, according to a guideline document released by the office of the central agricultural work leading group and several ministries.
By 2020, around 85 percent of rural households in mid-western areas where conditions permit should have access to sanitary toilets, it said.
Hundreds of thousands of rural residents have benefited from the nationwide project. A 94-year-old grandma surnamed Xu in a village of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, has been impressed by a renovated bathroom with a flush toilet and shower facilities, enjoying the comfort and convenience.
The smelly, fly-infested open pit latrine previously located in the corner of Xu's courtyard had been a real headache for her. "Now, we even use heat lamps when taking a bath in winter," she said.
China's National Health Commission said the coverage of sanitary toilets was merely 7.5 percent in 1993, while coverage surged to 80.3 percent in 2016, with that of some eastern regions surpassing 90 percent.