Planting and irrigation are becoming easier for farmer Hou Wenzhang in Yingpantai village in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, as a drip irrigation system has been built in the area.
The 61-year-old Hou, however, often recalls the hard times when he and his fellow villagers could not find enough water to irrigate farmlands. "The corn output of my farmland was merely 400 kilograms per mu (about 0.067 hectare) four years ago due to water shortage," said Hou, adding that the output today has increased by half thanks to drip irrigation pipes.
The central part of the Muslim-inhabited region is one of China's most drought-stricken areas, with 760,000 of the 1.36 million rural population having inadequate access to drinking water.
In March 2008, a proposal suggesting that the government build a water conservation irrigation project in the region was submitted by deputies of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) in Ningxia to the NPC, the country's top legislature.
NPC Deputy Yuan Jinlin, also director of the Ningxia Development and Reform Commission, said regional poverty is rooted in water shortages. Lu Xinping, another national lawmaker and a middle school teacher in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia, recalled that "local farmers used to toil on irrigation, but water was not used efficiently and crops did not grow well."
An official with the Ningxia regional people's congress said that many deputies from the 10th and 11th NPC worked on the proposal.
The proposal was considered by the NPC Standing Committee and passed to the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the State Council office on poverty relief.
The ministries decided to build a highly efficient irrigation system that would cover 1.15 million mu in five years in central Ningxia, with an investment of 1.12 billion yuan ($178 million). By the end of 2011, the irrigation system covered 1.09 million mu of farmland. More than 200,000 local villagers now benefit from the project.
The people's congress system has more than 2.7 million lawmakers at various levels, who are directly or indirectly elected by their constituencies.
Lawmakers push forward national and local policies through conducting field studies, collecting public opinions and submitting motions and suggestions.
During the fourth session of the 11th NPC in March 2011, NPC deputies submitted 8,043 proposals, six percent more than the previous year.
After that session, the NPC Standing Committee passed on the proposals to 177 governmental departments and closely monitored their handling.
Jiang Jian, head of Qufu Hospital in Shandong Province, has been a national lawmaker for almost 25 years. She has put forward more than 1,000 proposals, many of which have been carried out.
"I've not had one day off since becoming a legislator. In addition to performing my duty as a hospital head, I have devoted all my spare time to being a national lawmaker," Jiang said.
Her "masterpieces" include a proposal in 2009 on a nationwide food safety inspection after food scandals hit consumers' confidence. The proposal was immediately adopted that year.
Hu Xiaoyan, the first migrant worker to be elected as a national lawmaker in 2008, has continuously raised proposals on improving migrants' living and training conditions and their children's education.
Proposals submitted by her and other lawmakers with similar backgrounds were reflected in the government work reports of recent years, as measures on ensuring migrant workers' employment, social insurance and other interests have been written into the work reports.