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W. China Combines Family Planning with Poverty Alleviation
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Ma Nuhai, a villager in the remote Linxia county of northwest China's Gansu Province, has just moved with his wife and only daughter from his humble dwelling to a well-set house thanks to a project combining family planning with poverty alleviation.


His family is among lots of one-child families which benefit from this project in rural western China.


"I have only one daughter, but I don't regret that. Our life has been better compared with the past. I hope that my family will shake off poverty soon," said Ma.


In Linxia, like the Ma's, many one-child families have moved into free new houses which are offered by the poverty alleviation project involving 20,000 yuan (US$2,466). Besides, every household has received sheep of fine breed which are worth 2,000 yuan (US$246).


Needy families in Luqu county of the province, received sustenance funds from a project involving more than 4,000 yuan (US$493). The beneficiaries bought motor-tricycles and ran small businesses by their own, advancing steadfast on their way of throwing off poverty.


"According to 2004 national and provincial expenditure plans, the government must spend 5,000 yuan (US$616) to help one needy person get rid of poverty. In contrast, carrying out the family planning program in poverty-stricken areas only costs 370 yuan (US$45) per capita," said Li Ying, vice governor of Gansu.


"As a result, controlling birthrates in these areas is an effective way of fighting poverty and promoting economic and social development," said the governor.


The natural conditions in west China are atrocious and resources such as arable land and water are deficient. Its population is large compared with its insufficient resource supply. Taking Gansu, 8.5 million people cannot have access to essential resources, according to statistic calculations.


Rural people used to believe that having more children, especially boys, can help them out of poverty, which makes things even worse.


In an attempt to restore the balance between population and resources, the government combined family planning programs with poverty alleviation efforts, achieving remarkable progress in fighting poverty.


According to sources, the impoverished population in the Yuanzhou District of Guyuan City, located in western China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where a pilot project was carried out since 2000, had dropped from 224,400 to 109,800 by 2004.


Gansu also expects fruitful results from the project, with an estimated beneficiaries totaling 11,000 households.


(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2005)


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