Exploring Tibet: Life after relocation for families in Ngari
By Zheng Quanbin
Like the rest of China that aims to eliminate poverty by 2020, Ngari Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region is trying every means to lift thousands of its people out of poverty. One key solution is to give those living in very harsh conditions a new home.
But a much more important question is how they can sustain their livelihoods after relocation.
Gar County, the capital of Ngari Prefecture has its answer.
A flagship project is the Kangle residential community built for the relocated families. Kangle literally means "well-off and happy."
People began moving in 2016 and now it's a place 3,000 people call home. Most of the residents were herders, including Tseten.
The 60-year-old man and his daughter's family moved into one of the 700 apartments in the community about a year ago.
For most of his life, Tseten lived in a remote high-altitude area known for pasturing. It was almost like living in wilderness and life was not easy.
"The conditions there were very rough. We didn't even have toilets, and it was hard to support the family because we only raised a very small herd of cattle and goats," he said.
Even so, Tseten hesitated about moving, as he was not sure what a new life would look like. But now, he says he's beginning to love it.
"All the furniture and home appliances like the television are ready to use. I was worried, but now there is nothing to worry about."
Tseten is not working now, but he could if he wanted to. The local government has sponsored a factory that produces both garments and carpets, making good use of locally produced wool. The factory now provides more than 100 jobs and the number is growing.
Officials say the goal is to have at least one member of each relocated family employed.
The factory makes an annual profit of 1.6 million yuan. Part of the profit will be given to relocated families.
Tseten's two granddaughters are attending a newly-built kindergarten, close to their new home. With millions of yuan invested by the government, all the kids from the relocated families are receiving education there for free.
The Kangle community is one of the 30 residential areas designated for relocation in Ngari. Officials say 5,000 people who lived in harsh conditions have moved into these areas. Another 3,000 are still in need of help.
"Some of them are hesitant about moving. We respect their decisions, but still we hope to let them know what their life will look like after being relocated. We will also try to create more jobs for them if they wish to move out of those harsh areas," said Dawa Phuntsok, director of Ngari Prefecture Anti-Poverty Office.
For Tseten, moving to town is a big change to his way of life, but he says it's a change for the better, both for himself and the younger generations.
(Cover: A general view of Gar County in Tibet's Ngari Prefecture. /VCG Photo)