My Childhood In The 1960s

In this post, we asked our Local, Dellon M., to share the background of a specific historical event and its impact on Hong Kong people and himself.


Water is an essential resource to humans; without it, there is no life, no food, nothing. When I was a kid in the 60s, Hong Kong faced a very severe issue-a shortage of water. The 60s saw a massive population increase, and since Hong Kong lacked (and still lacks) natural streams and large reservoirs, drought and shortages were a huge problem. There was simply not enough water to go around. Therefore, the government had to ration the water supply, on average providing four hours of usage everyday.

In 1963, the worse year, water supply was rationed so that water was only available every 4 days for 4 hours. I recall in my childhood years, carrying plastic or tin buckets, and queuing on the streets to gather water for my family. As our family was poor, we had to use small tin or plastic buckets as we didn’t have big hard barrels. Back then, selling buckets and barrels could make you a small fortune if you could get a factory to supply them to you.

Water Shortage

In view of the water issue, the British administration asked China for help.  Massive water pipes were laid from Guangdong through Shenzhen to Hong Kong; the colonial government also began importing fresh water from Dong River (Dong Jiang) in 1965. This only relaxed the demand of water supply and didn’t resolve the water supply issue permanently.

The water shortage in Hong Kong reoccurred in 1982 with a drought that lasted for a few years.  However, this time the situation was better than the 60s since the government was more mature, and the population was wealthier. New reservoirs were built to capture water and to ensure a sufficient water supply.

The water shortage of the 60s is a sad story and a tragedy of my time…

Water is essential for human survival. It’s the first thing we look for when exploring new planets, and is becoming an increasingly fought over resource in the world. When I think of my childhood, I always have a picture in mind of a tipped over, soft, plastic barrel with all our “saved water” spilt on the ground.  The water shortage of the 60s is a sad story and a tragedy of my time, and I hope it will not happen for future generations.

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Read our previous post in our historical event series with our Local insider, Winnie, sharing about a political movement, the Umbrella Movement, on Hong Kong and her very personal experience.

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