University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom



Fulbright Scholar to Take Knowledge of California’s Water Resources to China


Visiting Fulbright Scholar to Take Knowledge of California’s Water Resources to China

Lan Fang has spent nearly a year at UC Riverside’s Water Science and Policy Center

(July 22, 2010)

Lan Fang is the deputy director of the Center for Rural Development Research at Shaanxi Normal University, China.  She has spent nearly a year at UC Riverside on a Fulbright fellowship to explore how China could benefit from methods employed in California to use, conserve and transfer water.  Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.Enlarge

Lan Fang is the deputy director of the Center for Rural Development Research at Shaanxi Normal University, China. She has spent nearly a year at UC Riverside on a Fulbright fellowship to explore how China could benefit from methods employed in California to use, conserve and transfer water. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – When Lan Fang, the deputy director of the Center for Rural Development Research at Shaanxi Normal University, China, received a Fulbright fellowship in 2009, she chose to work with Ariel Dinar, a professor of environmental economics and policy at the University of California, Riverside.

“I had read a book by Dr. Dinar when I was in Germany, working on my doctoral degree,” said Fang, who subsequently contacted Dinar, the director of UC Riverside's Water Science and Policy Center. “He is a well-known economist who specializes in water resources – a topic of interest to me and to China.”

Driven by her desire to explore how China could benefit from methods employed in California to use and conserve water, Fang arrived on campus in mid-September 2009. In the first week of August, she will depart for Xi’an, where her university is located, having completed her Fulbright.

“California has excellent water transfer projects,” said Fang, who teaches and researches environmental economics at Shaanxi Normal University. “I wanted to learn what I could during my stay here, and apply this knowledge in China.”

Like California, China has an uneven distribution of water resources. While northern China comprises 60 percent of the country’s landmass, it has only 20 percent of her water resources.

“Beijing is short of water,” Fang said. “That’s the situation also in Xi’an. So, water from the south needs to be efficiently transferred to the north of the country – the reverse of California’s situation.”

Fang has worked on models used to test equity and efficiency issues pertaining to China’s rural water management.

She explained that vast differences exist between California and China where water resources are concerned. Unlike California’s farmers, China’s farmers tend to be poor and unable to afford new technology for their fields. While sprinkler irrigation is frequently used in California’s agricultural fields, it is a fairly uncommon technology in China.

“China will need to come up with incentives for farmers to adopt new technology,” Fang said. “Given the uneven distribution of water resources in China, the questions I am addressing in my research are: What can the Chinese government do to improve the whole region’s social welfare? Farmers near the head stream have more access to water. Should water subsidies be offered to poor farmers located downstream? Or is it better to subsidize their crops? The models I work on show that the most efficient path is to offer subsidies to areas downstream of a water source in order to improve the entire region’s welfare.”

Fang is impressed by how Californians are made aware of water conservation at an early age. She is impressed, too, by Southern California, and has enjoyed living in Riverside.

“I learned an enormous amount from my colleagues at UCR,” she said. “They’ve given me many research suggestions and provided a lot of support throughout. Before coming to UCR, I had only a little idea about California’s water crisis from reading about it. The Fulbright gave me an invaluable opportunity to see it all firsthand and work with it, and I am very grateful for that. I know I will return, if I get another chance.”

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links

Footer