Desert village in NW China’s Xinjiang relocated for poverty alleviation, embraces prosperous life

The aerial photo shows the relocation site of Darya Boyi village of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Photo by Gao Yayong/People’s Daily Online)

Darya Boyi village, a sparsely populated village that used to sit in the Taklimakan Desert of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has witnessed profound changes over the past years after being relocated to a new site, thanks to China’s poverty alleviation efforts.

The per capital annual income of the residents in the village surged to 9,136 yuan (nearly $1,400) from 3,200 yuan six years ago. All 287 impoverished households have been lifted out of poverty, pulling down the poverty headcount ratio to zero.

Darya Boyi, with almost 80 percent of all its 1,404 residents suffering from poverty, is the only administrative village in Darya Boyi Township, according to Wang Fang, deputy Party head of Darya Boyi Township, who is responsible for poverty alleviation work there.

Situated in the heart of the Taklimakan Desert, the township is bothered by declining underground water level and frequent sandstorms, which has made it increasingly inhospitable in recent years. Relocating the villagers to a new settlement remained the only way out.

Two rounds of relocation were carried out for the village in 2017 and 2019, after a poverty alleviation relocation site was established 91 kilometers away from the township. The last batch of villagers moved to the new site on Sept. 27, 2019. By that time, Xinjiang had finished all of its poverty alleviation relocation missions required by China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), moving nearly 170,000 residents to new homes.

Currently, the relocation site has 422 laborers, 346 of whom are working near their homes and 29 outside of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Wang introduced.

Senior Metsidik Abdurehim is one of the villagers who was relocated to the new site, where he is living a better life. Now his family lives in a house supplied with power and natural gas, a clean bathroom and spacious living room, along with network cables, as well as abundant household appliances.

“Before we moved here, my family’s annual income was less than 20,000 yuan. Now both of my sons are employed and my wife works in the tourism cooperative. Our income this year is expected to reach 90,000 yuan,” Metsidik Abdurehim told People’s Daily Online. “It’s merely the start of an even better life,” he added.

A school has been constructed at the relocation site, admitting all of the 417 school-age students. In addition, the village also built a clinic and covered almost all of its residents with medical insurance.

The cultivation of Cistanches Herba, a kind of Chinese herbal medicine, is a tradition of the village. To help the residents better sustain themselves, the village handed out a kilogram of Cistanches Herba seeds to each of the relocated household, which is expected to bring an extra annual income of 4,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan for each household in the next five years.

Apart from that, the village established a cooperative to which the villagers can entrust their sheep, so the latter wouldn’t have to herd the livestock themselves and are allowed more time doing other jobs.

Rural tourism has been on the rise at the original site of the village, where the unique desert culture and traditions are attracting many visitors. Fifty bed and breakfast businesses have been built there, and a tourism cooperative is offering stable jobs for 50 households, each of which can earn 16,000 yuan on an annual basis.

Villager Kuwahan Mettursun now runs a restaurant at the relocation site. She can receive over 100 tourists a day in the peak season, and her average monthly income has reached 2,000 yuan. She gained a total of over 90,000 yuan in 2020, including the part she made from sheep raising and planting Cistanches Herba.

Source: People’s Daily Online

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