Water wheels in the Tashkurgan Grassland, Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, Xinjiang, China
© Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost/Getty Image
Water Wheels on the Silk Road. Fresh water on the Silk Road
No, these aren’t the ruins of an ancient amusement park in Western China. These two water wheels on the Tashkurgan River are part of the irrigation system that helps keep the 13,000 or so residents of Tashkurgan supplied with fresh water despite the region receiving only 2.68 inches of precipitation a year. That reliable access to fresh water is one of the reasons this area has been inhabited for thousands of years and marks it an important stop on the Old—and New—Silk Road. Highlighting the importance of fresh water is the goal of World Water Day, which falls every March 22nd. This year’s theme is “Leaving no one behind.” With over 2.1 billion people living without safe water at home, it’s one of the most ambitious of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.