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2.6 Million Chinese Shed Poverty Through Relocation

Meng Jun never thought two years ago that he could get rid of poverty in the barren karst mountains in Du'an Yao Ethnic Autonomous County in south China.

But now his barn is full after his family and others were relocated under a government-initiated poverty elimination project.

Meng and some 41,500 farmers, all Yao Minority people living in the Dashishan Mountains in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, agreed to leave their sterile homeland, when a poverty relocation project was launched at the start of 1999.

They were moved out of the mountain to Huanjiang Maonan Autonomous County not too far away in the region, where they were given several acres to farm.

Meng, a 29-year-old man, saw an electric lamp for the first time. More astonishing things happened during the past year as well. He had never known that the land could yield so much grain that he was even worrying that he did not have enough space to store the grain.

"In my home village, grain grows up in swallets," said the hardworking farmer.

He now has learned to feed hogs, chickens and rabbits with surplus harvests, and use corn to brew wine.

His family pocketed 1,200 yuan per-capita last year, which was 12 times higher than before they were relocated.

In Guangxi, relocation projects were introduced to help people get out of poverty in 1993. Since then, over 200,000 people have been escaped from the poverty line.

Gao Hongbin, director of the Poverty Relief and Development Office with the State Council, said the relocation is a very effective way to substantially help the portion of China's population living in harsh environment.

The official said that the poverty elimination method has helped 25,000 people to move to the places with better living conditions.

Northwest China's Gansu Province was one of the earliest provinces in China to start systematic poverty relocation projects in 1980s. The government funding for the projects accumulated to 260 million yuan.

According to Gao, Except for 26 million disabled and impoverished people living in unproductive areas, China has basically solved the food and clothing problem for most of poverty-stricken population.

(Xinhua 01/11/2001)

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