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Poverty relief official goes extra mile raising villagers' incomes

By ZHU LIXIN in Fuyang, Anhui | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-05-21 08:40
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Liu Yuan (center) inspects the wheat harvest in Chenxiaozhai village of Linquan, Anhui province, in May 2017. [Photo by Zhu Linxin/China Daily]

After four years in the formerly poverty-stricken village of Chenxiaozhai, Liu Yuan says he will probably leave but will always cherish his experiences there.

In April 2017, the now 54-year-old Liu was one of 753 officials dispatched to hundreds of key villages in East China's Anhui province to work on poverty relief.

Formerly attached to the publicity department of the CPC's Fuyang city committee, Liu was appointed first Party secretary-a Party member deployed by higher authorities usually to oversee poverty relief work-of the village, which is in southern Linquan county, and he has been working to meet his goal ever since.

With a population of over 2.3 million according to the hukou, or household registration system, Linquan is China's most heavily populated county and was one of its most impoverished areas.

"About half the 6,900 villagers have migrated to cities for work," said Liu, adding that nearby Fuyang, which has a population of over 10 million, is famous as a source of migrant workers.

Before arriving in Chenxiaozhai, the new secretary was told that 112 villagers were classified as poverty-stricken and would be treated as a priority.

According to China's national definition of poverty at the time, the classification referred to anyone with an annual income of less than 2,855 yuan ($443).

"Poverty relief is not simply about increasing incomes, it's also about creating a better environment to ensure improvements will last," said Liu.

He said that he will never forget the sight that greeted him when he first arrived in Chenxiaozhai on April 28, 2017.

Infrastructure, like paved roads, was nearly nonexistent, and the offices of those responsible for the part-time administration of the village were located in an abandoned primary school.

"The most important, and the most difficult thing, was not telling the government that a village needs money, it was deciding how to spend the money on the right things," he continued.

Since then, he has helped Chenxiaozhai secure millions of yuan from the government to improve infrastructure, and he says that there are now paved roads leading to every household.

Liu found that he was responsible for the well-being of many more than just those 112 villagers on the poverty list. The villagers each had fields of about one mu, or 667 square meters, in size, and he realized that people would never be able to make a decent living from them.

With support from the local government and through the efforts of his colleagues in the village, Liu was able to introduce the practice of land transfer in 2018.

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