China / Society

Civil servants boost rural development

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-08 07:52

Su Guoping spent his days helping farmers divert water from wells to parched fields in Kumkuduk, a village on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Su is one 200,000 civil servants sent to Xinjiang's rural areas as part of a program to improve the livelihood of residents.

"Water shortage can affect this year's harvest," said Su, deputy director of the Xinjiang Economic and Information Commission. "There is no time to delay. We must help the farmers."

He lived in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, before joining the program, which began in March 2014. The civil servants live and work at more than 8,000 villages, 700 State farms and pastures, and 1,000 communities in the vast region for a one-year term. The program will last three years.

With eight of his peers, Su became neighbors with Uygur villagers in Kumkuduk, trying to understand what they need and then give assistance.

Su said working in rural villages is a good way for officials to accumulate grassroots experience and help improve the quality of life for villagers, although it's not always easy.

Emer Abla said fields in his village have had an acute lack of water after the wells dried up a few years ago.

So, Su and his colleagues turned to construction workers and the local electric power department for help. A new well and irrigation ditches were dug to bring water to the otherwise barren fields.

Villagers were reluctant to trust the newcomers at the beginning. An elderly man named Musataji often gave Su the cold shoulder when the civil servant tried to talk with him.

"He was not willing to tell us his troubles because he thought it was useless and might result in trouble," Su said.

Su then changed his approach and started to have talks with the farmers in the fields and help them clean yards and roads.

"These cadres are modest, hardworking, and hardy," said Dawut, Kumkuduk village head. "We are like brothers."

More villagers are now willing to turn to these officials for help.

"The rural life has also provided an opportunity for us to understand grassroots living conditions and expectations," Su said.

The civil servants sent to the rural areas are expected to help villagers solve problems and improve their living conditions. The program aims to enhance the relationships among different nationalities, improve the abilities of officials and cultivate virtue, according to Pu Shiyu, deputy director of the organization department of the regional committee of the Communist Party of China.

The officials also help farmers and herdsmen increase income, maintain social stability and promote religious harmony during their rural experience, Pu said.

With their expertise, Su Guoping and his colleagues have helped the villagers obtain financial aid to raise sheep, open a textile mill and clothing factory.

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