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Derung people seek to eradicate poverty by year end

Reporter: Meng Qingsheng 丨 CCTV.com

10-15-2016 12:53 BJT

China has declared war against poverty. The central government says it will lift all of its remaining 55 million poor people out of poverty by the year 2020. To achieve that goal, China needs to lift 10 million people out of poverty every year, and provide a social safety net for everyone who is unable to work.

CCTV reporter is covering China's poverty-reduction efforts in southwest China in a five-episode special report. We first start in Gongshan County in Yunnan Province, where people from the Derung ethnic group are making life-changing decisions to eradicate poverty by the end of this year.

The people of Derung River Valley live in relative isolation.

A new government program is helping them benefit from China's rise.

About four thousand Derung people have left their shanties, and moved into new houses.

43-year old Meng Xinwen is one of the people benefiting from the program.

His family used to struggle with poverty.

"I have three children to raise up, and an old-aged mother to take care of. My children are still young and they can not help me do the field work. I am the only bread earner in the family. And our source of income is limited," said Meng Xinwen.

To help the villagers earn more income, local authorities have encouraged Derung residents to grow Caoguo, a popular locally grown spice. Business is good. Meng's family uses the extra money that he earns from selling Caoguo to buy daily necessities, like salt and rice.

"I have planted about two hectares of Caiguo. I am not sure about the harvest this year, because it is hard to predict. But I think I could earn about two thousand yuan from our next harvest," said Meng Xinwen.

The government also pays Meng to protect the forest in his neighborhood. He earns around 800 yuan or about 150 US dollars every month for his conservation work.

"The job gives me an additional source of income. It has helped improve the quality of my life. I can use that money to buy more daily necessities, and send my children to study at school," said Meng Xinwen.

The poverty line in China is about 2.2 US dollars a day, slightly higher than the international 1.9 dollar minimum set by the World Bank. People below that line are officially regarded as "living in poverty."

Currently, about one in ten people in this Derung village live below the poverty line. They are expected to be pulled out of poverty by the end of this year, but local officials say that's just the first step. Programs to revive local ethnic culture and to enrich the lives of the Derung people are also on the way.

Derung people used to live in clans, and it's tradition for them to sing and dance around bonfires.

Some elders are worried that modernization could extinguish the Derung people's rich culture.  

The local government is funding programs to help keep Derung traditions alive. 

But for now, Meng and his family are primarily focused on just getting out of poverty and staying well-off.

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