In Gansu Province in the North of China, a part of the Minquin community feels the affects of desertification. Surrounded by the Tengri and Badanjilin deserts, the villages of the region are beginning to be engulfed by sand dunes, whilst trees die one after another and cultivation becomes impossible.
In Huanghui, a local hamlet, the ground waters are so dry and rainfall so scarce that the inhabitants have no other choice but to bring up water from more than 300 meters below the ground. Consequently, the difficulty of life over the past few years has led many villagers to leave their homeland, which they have always known and to which they are sincerely attached.
Several elders, however, have chosen to remain. Despite being isolated, dispossessed of nearly everything and having been forced to make large sacrifices to adapt to their new environment, they refuse to leave. They prefer instead to remain close to their roots and try to fight against desertification by planting trees to prevent the progression of the desert, and consequently protect their homelands and the many memories that they contain. Yet, despite their efforts, it is becoming increasingly clear that sooner or later they too will be forced to leave and abandon their native land.
Following the story of these peoples, we are immersed in one of the ecological challenges of the 21st Century; the fight against desertification, a problem which largely overwhelms the Chinese frontiers. Many environmental specialists claim that one third of the earth’s surfaces are threatened by this phenomenon.