Locals not only coping with destitution but also disaster

Updated: 2011-10-22 11:47

By Chen Longxiang (China Daily)

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Locals not only coping with destitution but also disaster

The only stadium in Gansu's Dongxiang county was destroyed by a landslide in March. [Photo by Xu Jingxing / China Daily]

DONGXIANG, Gansu- Dongxiang seems to lend weight to the old saying: "Misfortunes never come singly".

Not only is it one of the poorest counties in the country, it also suffers from frequent natural disasters.

The latest of those occurred around 7 pm on March 2, when a landslide destroyed part of Sarta plaza in the county seat.

Fortunately, a door-to-door search by officials, police officers and teachers turned up no casualties.

"Living in Dongxiang, we are used to small-scale landslides, but the one in March was really serious," said Ma Zhanhui, a local resident.

Locals not only coping with destitution but also disaster
The landslide caused 2,700 residents there to temporarily lose their access to power and water and 117 residential houses, 732 shops and six office buildings to be declared unsafe to stay in. About 1,180 residents of the county were moved elsewhere and the economic loss from the disaster was estimated to be 247 million yuan ($38.7 million).

Dongxiang is one of the poorest counties in China and receives most of its revenue through transfer payments from the central government. Because of its lack of money, rebuilding after the disaster has proved difficult.

In March, Ma Wenpi and other members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference jointly submitted a proposal, asking for money to be used to prevent geological disasters and to support an expansion of the Dongxiang county seat.

So far, Dongxiang has conducted a full assessment of the damage caused by the landslide and finished its plans to repair the damage caused by the disaster.

In addition, a plan to manage geological disasters is under way, one that will concentrate on supporting disaster victims, on public services and on public works.

"We will turn the disaster into an opportunity to improve the layout of the county seat, which will contribute to the local residents' livelihood, the region's long-term development and the protection of ethnic culture," said Gao Shitai, Party chief of Dongxiang.