TAR­GETED POVERTY RE­LIEF PAYS OFF

Poor fam­i­lies in ru­ral Ti­bet re­ceive new homes, em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion to build a bet­ter life

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NYIMA and DAQIONG in Lhasa

It’s early au­tumn in Amdo county, the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion and the 41-year-old Shokpo is head­ing out to clean the win­dows of his new govern­ment-pro­vided house.

At an av­er­age al­ti­tude of more than 4,700 me­ters above sea level, the air in Amdo is chilly and Shokpo and his wife Ze­tee plan to move into their new home soon.

Al­to­gether, 55 of the county’s poverty-stricken fam­i­lies, 121 peo­ple in to­tal, are be­ing re­lo­cated from 13 town­ships to a govern­ment-fi­nanced res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity in the county town as part of re­lief ef­forts.

Shokpo’s fam­ily were se­lected to be part of the project be­cause they are one of the poor­est in No 4 vil­lage, Thang­nak town­ship.

They own five yaks and 15 sheep, which have about 1,300 square me­ters of grass­land to graze on. Their only other in­come comes from Shokpo’s job at the lo­cal train sta­tion, while Ze­tee works as a wait­ress in a res­tau­rant.

One of their chil­dren stud­ies at the county’s high school, while the other is at school in Lhasa, the re­gional cap­i­tal.

“We rented a house in the county town, be­cause I need to take care of my daugh­ter who stud­ies there,” Shokpo said.

Be­fore that, he used to live in a re­mote vil­lage at an al­ti­tude of 5,000 me­ters, with poor ve­hic­u­lar ac­cess and only ba­sic pub­lic ser­vices.

“I want to say a heart­felt thank you to the govern­ment for pro­vid­ing us with a new house, be­cause now we no longer need to rent a house in the town,” said Ze­tee, 43.

“We used to live in an adobe house on the grass­lands. It was very cold, es­pe­cially in win­ter and it was small and al­ways hard to keep tidy.”

She said she had only ever dreamed of liv­ing in such an ex­pen­sive house, which cost the govern­ment more than 300,000 yuan ($43,400) to build.

Bai Yucheng, direc­tor of the Amdo poverty al­le­vi­a­tion bureau, said that re­lo­cated res­i­dents could find work more eas­ily in the county town than in their home vil­lages.

“A com­mer­cial rental project will pro­vide build­ings that res­i­dents can use to ei­ther op­er­ate their own busi­nesses or lease to other peo­ple,” he said.

“In ad­di­tion, re­lo­cated res­i­dents will be able to work in ho­tels and at car washes in the county town. They will also find jobs in ho­tels, con­crete batch­ing plants and on trans­port teams.”

Poor fam­i­lies re­ceive govern­ment fund­ing for pro­tect­ing the grass­lands, wa­ter re­sources and wildlife, and there is also an ed­u­ca­tion pay­ment scheme.

“In terms of ed­u­ca­tion, 15 col­lege stu­dents have re­ceived fund­ing in our county, and each gets 5,000 yuan a year,” Bai said. “There are also funds for peo­ple who can­not pay their med­i­cal bills from their med­i­cal in­surance.”

Amdo county has a pop­u­la­tion of about 40,000, spread across 9,582 house­holds, 2,677 of which live below the poverty line, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures. This year, 143 of these house­holds were re­lo­cated.

Other ar­eas such as San­grong town­ship in Nyan­rong county, are sim­i­larly af­fected by high rates of poverty.

“The govern­ment not only for­mu­lated pref­er­en­tial poverty al­le­vi­a­tion poli­cies but also car­ried out some mea­sures to im­prove the lo­cals’ in­come ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal con­di­tions,” said Kun­sang Dor­jee, Party sec­re­tary of San­grong.

A com­pany pro­duc­ing con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, which was in­vited to op­er­ate in the town­ship’s No 7 vil­lage, now em­ploys more than 20 vil­lagers. As part of its con­tract, it must pay the town­ship 420,000 yuan in the first year and 50,000 yuan each year there­after, which will be used as a poverty re­lief fund.

The town­ship’s poor­est fam­i­lies, some of whom have only 10 sheep, will have their med­i­cal ex­penses paid for and an agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tive will be set up so that they can pool their re­sources and sell milk, cheese and meat for a profit.

“We hope the peo­ple can ben­e­fit from the co­op­er­a­tive as a sus­tain­able project,” Kungsang Dor­jee said.

Thir­teen of San­grong’s vil­lagers earn ex­tra in­come by work­ing as wildlife rangers for 2,800 yuan per year, while three col­lege-age chil­dren are sup­ported in their stud­ies by a govern­ment ed­u­ca­tion fund.

With the goal of build­ing a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety by 2020, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ini­ti­ated tar­geted poverty al­le­vi­a­tion in Novem­ber 2013, and in July 2014 Ti­bet is­sued the rel­e­vant doc­u­ments and requirements on how to carry out the work.

“More than 140,000 im­pov­er­ished res­i­dents in the re­gion were moved off the poverty line by the end of Septem­ber 2016,” said Lu Huadong, deputy direc­tor of the Ti­bet Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion Of­fice.

Con­tact the writ­ers at palden_ nyima@chi­nadaily.com.cn

DAILY PHOTOS BY PALDEN NYIMA / CHINA

Shokpo and Ze­tee clean the win­dows of their new house pro­vided by the govern­ment in the county town of Amdo, the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Ti­betan nomads work at a govern­ment-funded co­op­er­a­tive, which pro­duces wood quilts at the Qin­g­long town­ship, Ti­bet’s Pal­gon county.

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