NEW WAY: The new 1.5-km gravel road in Tongle Village in Longan County of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has made life easier for local people (DUAN WEI)
Though not perfectly flat, the new 1.5-km gravel road in Tongle Village, Longan County in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has still given hope to local people.
"In the past, when we went to the market in the town to buy chemical fertilizer, we had to carry it back on our shoulders and walked for more than one hour. Now we have the road and vehicles, which is much more convenient," said Zhao Jingyu, a 65-year-old farmer from the village.
The road is part of an antipoverty project begun half a year ago. Before it was built, local people had little contact with the outside world and few channels to sell the peppers they grow. Now dealers can drive directly to the village to purchase peppers and many of the farmers are prospering as a result.
Two-thirds of the land in Longan County is hilly and difficult to cultivate. For a place that relies mainly on agriculture, that is a hard fact.
Zhao's family has four members, but only 0.26 hectares of land to support itself. His son and daughter have gone elsewhere to earn a living, and since his wife died Zhao remains alone working the land.
Harsh natural conditions and incomplete agricultural infrastructure are the main reasons for poverty in the area. Until the beginning of 2007, some 66 villages in Longan County were without electricity, and about 100,000 lacked sufficient drinking water. Travel was also difficult because of a lack of roads.
Guangxi is a multiethnic region that comprises 12 ethnic autonomous counties and 58 ethnic autonomous towns. More than 18 million people from China's most populous ethnic minority, the Zhuang, live in Guangxi, accounting for 90 percent of the total number of Zhuang people across the country. In 2007, the per-capita GDP of Guangxi was about 12,400 yuan ($1,815), just 61 percent of the average level of the country.
In Guangxi, there are another 27 counties at the same poverty level as Longan. According to Hu Decai, Director of Leading Group Office on Anti-Poverty and Development of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, over 80 percent of people living in poverty are from ethnic minorities.