GUIZHOU -- If flooding does not destroy Hu Mingzhong's meager crops, grown in a rocky crevice in the karst of South China's Guizhou, drought usually does.
Unlike farmers in the lowlands, his constant hard labor has never yielded enough food for Hu's family. With broken terrain and poor soil, the terraced fields in the Guizhou karst only support some low-yield corn.
Hu, 49, who has been no stranger to starvation since childhood, said the corn from his farm did not meet even half of his household's needs. "The rest came from relief distributed by the local authorities for the past years."
Guizhou has the most poor people of all provinces and regions in China, and embarked on an ambitious nine-year project in August last year, aimed at moving 2 million people like Hu from harsh environments to newly built townships with modern infrastructure.
This poverty alleviation scheme will result in one of the largest organized migrations in history, surpassing even the Three Gorges Dam relocation that involved 1.27 million people along the Yangtze River.
Thursday is the International Day of Eradicating Poverty. China is striving to eliminate poverty and build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by 2020.
According to figures released by the State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development, by the end of 2012, China had just under 100 million people living under the state poverty line of 2,300 yuan ($377) per capita a year.
The hardest challenge comes from concentration of poor people in harsh geoclimatic areas like Guizhou, Yunnan and Gansu. In 2013, the Central Government plans to spend 39 billion yuan to assist local authorities tackle poverty in such regions.
In Guizhou, the provincial government has a 160-billion-yuan relocation project on the agenda. Investment in housing, employment and social welfare will help the relocated settle down.
Hu was among the first group of 250,000 moved to new homes in August last year. In the new settlements, people like Hu who used to be farmers have to get accustomed to township life, looking for jobs for income. But at least he has ceased blaming God for "unfairness" which consigned him and other poor people to drudgery among the rocks for meager yields.
Resettler Tang Zhengrong, 59, said after moving off the karst this year, his grandson can go to school close to home. He and his wife plan to use the ground floor of their three-story house to open a small grocery store, and his son and daughter-in-law are looking for jobs.
on an inspection tour to Guizhou in September, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang called on local officials to be innovative in their poverty alleviation measures by encouraging the participation of individuals and enterprises.
According to Wang Guoliang, deputy director of the the State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development, financial services in poor regions are still underdeveloped, and cannot help industry create employment and support economic growth.