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Changes in most uninhabitable area: understanding China's fight against poverty
Last Updated: 2020-12-11 07:31 | Xinhua
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-- Xihaigu was labeled the "most unfit place for human settlement" by the United Nations in the 1970s. Xihaigu's triumph over destitution, after reeling under poverty for centuries and carrying the tag of the most uninhabitable area on earth, offers a window into China's achievements in its war against poverty.

-- In Xihaigu, one collective memory is the lack of water. The average water resources per person in Xihaigu is only one 22th of the country's average.

-- The whole area of Xihaigu has bid farewell to extreme poverty, with all the nine counties and districts in the area delisted from the national poverty list. Xihaigu's current population is 2.4 million and all people live in places close to water diversion canals with easy access to water.

Xihaigu, an arid land in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was one of the country's most impoverished areas until recent years.

Now the whole area has bid farewell to extreme poverty, with all the nine counties and districts in the area delisted from the national poverty list.

In this combo aerial photo taken on Sept. 8, 2018, the upper part shows a view of a revegetated area where former residents were relocated to another settlement; the lower part shows a newly built settlement for relocated villagers, both in Hongsipu District of Wuzhong City, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

Xihaigu's triumph over destitution, after reeling under poverty for centuries and carrying the tag of the most uninhabitable area on earth, offers a window into China's achievements in its war against poverty.

Xihaigu was labeled the "most unfit place for human settlement" by the United Nations in the 1970s due to land reclamation, drought and fragile ecological environments. But, through the government and people's relentless efforts, the region has shaken off all such tags.

In the 1980s, when China implemented its first large-scale program for development-oriented poverty relief in the northwestern regions, Xihaigu was included.

Since then, technology, fundings, professional personnel and consistent policy supports have helped sustained development in the region.

Pooling their wisdom, people in Xihaigu and aid workers succeeded in realizing both social development and ecological rehabilitation.

MOVING OUT AND DIVERTING IN

Less than 30 years ago, people in Xihaigu barely had enough to eat and the spell of poverty marred the region.

Xihaigu's population grew rapidly between 1953 and 1995. Its population density was thrice the maximum carrying capacity of dry land as defined by the United Nations, official data showed.

Thus, the discrepancy in natural resources and population called for bold efforts to redress the balance.

Ningxia launched six large-scale relocation projects, moving some 1.23 million people from Xihaigu to more habitable areas, areas closer to irrigation canals.

Nationwide, resettlement has helped poor people build new homes, find jobs, and forge a better future for their children.

In Xihaigu, one collective memory is the lack of water. As a local poet once wrote: "When cutting a grain of sand in half in Xihaigu, one half groans with thirst and the other moans in hunger."

To eradicate poverty, finding stable water sources for drinking and irrigation is a must.

Official data shows the average water resources per person in Xihaigu is only one 22th of the country's average. Many village names carry people's wishes for more water, such as Hanjiaoshui Village, meaning "crying for water" in Chinese.

Since the 1970s, a series of water diversion projects have been rolled out in the region, channeling water from the Yellow River and its tributary Jinghe River to Xihaigu.

By the end of 2019, almost all rural households in Xihaigu had access to potable water. Cisterns, water buckets, and water-carrying donkeys were no longer household necessities.

Xihaigu's current population is 2.4 million and all people live in habitable places with easy access to water.

(Editor:Wang Su)

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Changes in most uninhabitable area: understanding China's fight against poverty
Source:Xinhua | 2020-12-11 07:31
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