Scattered families find a place to call home

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Publish Time: 2020-09-15 Author: Shen Wendi in Xining From: China Daily

Children play a game on a soccer field at Amdo Folk Culture Village, a resettlement project for poor families, in Xinghai county, Qinghai province. [Photo by FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY]

Resettlement program in Qinghai is helping impoverished households enjoy better lives

It's the summer holidays, and the kindergarten in Qabqa, Qinghai province, is quiet and bathed in sunshine.

However, 5-year-old Dorje Wangyal is keeping busy with his classmates who live in the same neighborhood. They play all day, watch TV, or sometimes go shopping with their families in the town 1.5 kilometers away. Shopping is Dorje Wangyal's favorite pastime, as he can buy the desserts he likes.

He and other children from more than 100 impoverished families have been resettled in the town in Gonghe county, Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture. The kindergarten was built for children who had previously lived in remote areas, or who were from nomadic families, and were unable to go to school.

"I like it here, the house, the friends and the school," Dorje Wangyal said in broken Mandarin, which he has just begun learning.

Three years ago, his life was very different when his home was on grazing land 75 km from Qabqa. His father died when he was a toddler and the boy was raised by his grandparents.

The hut they lived in had no power and they had to travel 20 km to fetch water. The cold winter nights were hard to get through, and the only way to keep warm was to burn cow dung. The smell would linger in the cottage throughout the winter.

The family lived on the meager income earned from sheep products such as wool and milk. As Dorje Wangyal grew older, it became harder for the family to make ends meet, let alone send him to kindergarten.

Six-year-old Dorje Changje rides a bicycle in front of his new home at a resettlement village in Qabqa, Gonghe county, on Aug 17, 2020. [Photo by FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY]

Resettlement

In 2017, as part of national poverty alleviation efforts, the local government started to resettle impoverished families such as Dorje Wangyal's to areas near Qabqa, which has made life easier for them.

Providing them with housing was the first priority. Within two years, 94 buildings with water, power and heating were constructed, benefiting 144 households.

"We aimed at housing those scattered and vulnerable poor households who couldn't make a living from herding," said Ma Lan, a member of the Party committee of Niandi village.

"The resettlement project cost 25.5 million yuan ($3.73 million), with 86 percent of the money coming from the central government."

A targeted approach to poverty alleviation is widely used in Qinghai. To determine poverty-stricken households, criteria such as annual income, living and health conditions, literacy levels and compulsory education are taken into account.

When an application for resettlement is submitted, a household is evaluated from township to county level. If the application is successful, the result is made public.

However, resettlement is not the only help the impoverished households receive. Under the guidance of the local government, cooperatives have been set up, in which the impoverished households place their sheep and cows as an investment. Annual dividends paid by the cooperatives allow the resettled herders to buy feed and hire other workers to do their traditional work. This frees them up to look for other jobs or learn new skills, such as vehicle maintenance and cooking, to improve their work prospects.

Shimar Tenzin, an official of Wenquan township, Xinghai county said, "Our mission is to ensure that at least one member of every family gets a job after resettlement so that each household has a stable income in the future."

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