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Model village thriving after decadelong anti-poverty campaign
By:China Daily
update:November 23,2023
Nov.23, 2023 -- One late autumn day, Long Xianlan, who comes from Shibadong village in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture in Hunan province, was busy being filmed for a program about his village.
A group of journalists had come from Laos to this small Miao village, tucked away in the Wuling Mountains, to learn the secrets of China's poverty alleviation success.
Shibadong village is regarded as a landmark in the country's efforts to reduce poverty as, in 2013, it was where the concept of targeted poverty alleviation was first introduced. This pioneering notion focuses on tailoring poverty alleviation efforts to individuals, local conditions and the root causes of poverty. Since then, such programs have spread from Hunan to the rest of the country, resolving China's long-standing problem of absolute poverty.
Long, who was struggling with alcoholism a decade ago, has seen this transformation for himself.
"My mother remarried after my father died young, and when my sister died in an accident as well, I thought my life was doomed, and I became an alcoholic," he says.
In 2013, Shibadong village had a daunting poverty incidence rate of 57 percent, with an average per capita net income of 1,668 yuan ($232).
In January 2014, the Huayuan county committee dispatched a team of poverty alleviation workers to the village.
Under their guidance, Long started to learn beekeeping. Over time, he not only honed his own expertise, but also helped hundreds of households in neighboring villages emerge from absolute poverty through beekeeping.
The concept of targeted poverty alleviation changed both the village's fate and Long's life. Today, he makes more than 400,000 yuan a year, and the per capita net income in Shibadong was 23,505 yuan last year. "I hope my experience inspires people in other corners of the world," he says.
In just a decade, the Miao village has experienced a profound transformation, with the most remarkable changes evident in its infrastructure.
Shi Laoji remembers how challenging it was to transport pigs for sale in the past. "Maneuvering pigs along the narrow, slippery mountain trails was perilous," Shi says.
Today, the muddy roads of Shibadong village have been replaced by asphalt and stone-paved pathways, and modern amenities like mobile phones, banks and post offices are easily accessible.
In August, an airport opened in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, presenting villagers like Shi with the possibility of air travel.
The formerly impoverished village's transformation is closely tied to its industrial progress. "Shibadong has invested in five sectors, namely, tourism, mountain spring water, labor, farming and Miao embroidery," says Long Ke, village Party chief.
"Villagers who used to work elsewhere are now returning to work as guides, run farmhouses and homestays, and engage in livestreaming to sell agricultural specialties," Long Ke adds.
Last year, Shibadong received 532,000 tourists and earned tourism revenues of 12 million yuan.
"There's a growing sense of happiness and fulfillment," Long Ke says.
Today, the village has also become a window for the world to understand China's poverty alleviation efforts. Over the past five years, it has welcomed 10 delegations from countries including Spain, Namibia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
"I hope our small village can serve as a reference for countries and people who aspire to get rid of poverty and live better lives," Long Xianlan says.
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