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Guizhou relocation effort benefiting poor families in secluded mountains

By YANG JUN in Guiyang and HOU LIQIANG in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-04 08:43
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A villager climbs the almost-vertical stair to get to the outside world in Wawu township, part of Guizhou province's Tongren city, Sept 17, 2019. [Photo/IC]

Going to shop used to be extremely time consuming for Liu Hongyue. It could take him half a day to reach the nearest shop to buy daily necessities from his mountain village in Wawu township, part of Guizhou province's Tongren city.

"Transportation was very inconvenient. No matter where you went, you had to go on foot," he said.

Instead of trekking over several mountains to shop, Liu now only has to go downstairs and walk for a few minutes to reach a large variety of commodities in a supermarket.

The change occurred thanks to a poverty relief project initiated by the Guizhou provincial government in 2015 to relocate people from remote poverty-stricken areas.

Liu, now 42, was only one of 11,735 people from 2,836 poverty-stricken families that have been relocated to Aitun community in an industrial park in Tongren's Bijiang district.

His mother, 73, was troubled by uremia and had been undergoing peritoneal dialysis for years. Liu and his wife, however, had no choice but to leave their two children in the care of his parents and work as migrant workers in many different cities such as Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, and Shanghai.

Now, they work for a shoe manufacturer in the industrial park with the help of the local government. They can make about 3,000 yuan ($420) a month, almost the same as what they made as migrant workers.

"I can not only take care of my parents and children, but also make a stable income to support my family," he said. "I never expected I could lead such a well-off life."

The local government has also been making efforts to organize training for the migrants so that they could learn skills that could help them get jobs.

Xie Ling, who was relocated to Tongren's Wanshan district, said he had access to free regular training courses every month in his community.

"The training is not only free, but you could also get a subsidy of 40 yuan a day. You could choose whatever course you liked, such as courses for cooks and electricians," he explained.

He said he used to live in humble houses constructed with soil and wood and never expected he could move into the apartment he currently lives in.

In addition to the courses, the government is also offering poverty-stricken migrants concessional loans to help them start their own businesses, local authorities said.

"The purpose of the relocation of poverty-stricken people is to lift them out of poverty," they said.

A total of 943 new residential communities with 456,000 apartments were constructed throughout Guizhou to accommodate the poverty-stricken migrants.

More than 1.8 million people have already been relocated, and another 35,000 are expected to move into these communities by the end of this year, according to the Guizhou government.

Zhang Jie, deputy director of the Guizhou provincial development and reform commission, said the province will continue to promote capacity building for those poverty-stricken migrants to help them escape poverty.

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