China: Inner Mongolia
desertification leads to large-scale relocation
BBC Monitoring Service - United
Kingdom; Jul 20, 2001
Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency
Xinhua (New China News Agency)
Hohhot, 19 July: As many as
200,000 farmers and herdsmen living in the barren areas of
Northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region will be
Hao Yidong, vice-chairman of
the autonomous region, made the announcement at a working
conference held recently in Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia.
"They have to move to other
places," said Hao, stressing "it is the only way to get rid of
poverty without harming the environment. "
During the past seven years,
the living conditions for a total of 2.7 million people in the
region have been greatly improved under the assistance of
local governments, sources said.
However, there are still about
200,000 people living in the region with unsound environments,
where drought and desertification have seriously threatened
They have to continue
exploiting the very limited natural resources in order to make
a living, which in turn has further deteriorated the
The programme has received
support from a majority of the population and about 7,000
people moved to fertile land and established their new homes
last year, officials said.
"Even if the government does
not launch the program, we ourselves will still try to find a
better place," Huang Guangyuan, a villager from the county of
Duolun, told a reporter.
"There is nothing else here
except sand," he complained, pointing to the house he
abandoned, which has been half buried by yellow sand.
Located on the verge of a large
area of sand-filled land, his village has almost been
destroyed by years of rampant sandstorms.
Not long ago, Huang, together
with another 20 households in his village, moved to their new
homes on the outskirts of the town.
The government has not only
invested in building new houses for the villagers, but also
allocated sufficient arable land for them to grow vegetables,
according to sources.
Most of the people are supposed
to move only within their own prefecture or league (a
geo-administrative unit), and the program will be conducted on
a voluntary basis, officials said.