|URUMQI, Feb. 21, 2019 -- Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region secured 33. 4 billion yuan (about 4.99 billion U.S. dollars) for poverty relief programs last year.
The efforts have paid off. Data show that 537,000 people in Xinjiang were lifted out of poverty in the past year, with the region's poverty headcount ratio dropping from 11.57 percent in 2017 to 6.51 percent in 2018.
More than 80 percent of the fund went to the four impoverished prefectures in southern and western Xinjiang -- Hotan, Kashgar, Aksu and Kizilsu Kirgiz, with 1,418 poverty relief projects being launched in the four prefectures in 2018, according to the regional poverty alleviation and development office.
The four prefectures sit on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert, the largest desert in China and the second-largest shifting sand desert in the world. Local residents had remained poor due to bad natural conditions there.
To fulfill the mission of eradicating absolute poverty by 2020, Xinjiang has tried the approach of helping poor farmers and herders move from mountainous regions and desert hinterland where conditions are harsh to resettle in oases and plains.
Mehrop Muraba's family moved from deep in the Kunlun Mountains to a location near a county seat in Kashgar Prefecture last July. He said his hometown used to be plagued by floods and landslides in summer.
Mehrop Muraba now runs a store selling hardware and building materials and supports his family of five with a steady income.
"My three kids now have better facilities in their new schools. I want to make money and save more so that I can send them to universities," he said.
Besides relocation, Xinjiang has also been committed to promoting industrial development, and providing minimum living allowances for impoverished households in rural areas. So far, 1.3 million disadvantaged people are receiving minimum living allowances in the region.