Mu Jiawu's wife had been sick for days, but the couple could not afford to see a doctor or buy food. Apart from poverty, their mountaintop home near a proposed dam site at Liuku township, Yunnan province made it almost impossible for the sick woman to make the descent of more than 2,000 metres to the township. It is hard for outsiders to imagine how Mr Mu, 36, his wife and their two schoolchildren have lived in a ramshackle wooden shed for six years. It is empty except for two beds and several wooden stools. There is no electricity or running water. 'Life on the mountain is tough and sometimes dreadful, which has forced some of my neighbours to leave,' said Mr Mu, of the Han ethnic group, which is a minority in the Nu River region. 'People always ask me why we don't move to a better place,' he said. 'But where can we go as farmland at other locations has become too pricy for us after lots of land seizures here to make way for [Nu River] hydropower projects?' Getting enough fresh water for the family and its livestock remains a top priority for Mr Mu daily. 'A return journey to the closest access to water near the river at the foot of the mountain takes me and my horse nearly four hours. And I need to go there twice each day,' he said. The family used to live in Langbazhai village, in the township surrounded by verdant Gaoligong Mountain, a place where it had easy access to water. The nightmare started when a move to Simao city , under a government relocation programme, proved a failure. 'We found life was even worse there and incentives promised by the government were simply non-existent,' Mr Mu recalled bitterly. 'But when we came back, we found ourselves 'refugees'. We had nowhere to go as our farmland had been sold by local authorities.' Ten 'refugee' families and more than 40 people now live on the mountain, which falls under the jurisdiction of two villages. But no local cadres have bothered to visit them, they say. 'We have been forgotten,' said one dweller San Gui Cai, a member of the Lisu ethnic minority group, adding that their pleas for power and water had been ignored for years. Villagers say the authorities promised to meet their demands after each family paid 200 yuan for access to electricity. 'We gave the authorities approximately 3,000 yuan in September last year demanding an early opening of drinking water supplies. They agreed to help but nothing has happened so far,' Mr Mu said. 'I don't have confidence in the authorities any more.' Apart from pigs, dozens of chickens and 2 mu (about 1,300 square metres) of wasteland he reclaimed on the mountaintop to grow corn, Mr Mu said they had to rely on relatives for a living, especially for the children's education. Mr Mu said he was not opposed to the damming of the Nu River as long as villagers could benefit from the project. He remained hopeful that his life and those of other villagers living on the mountain would be dramatically improved when the proposed hydropower station at Liuku was built.