Residents in Tongren's impoverished Songtao Miao autonomous county transplant rape seedlings.(Photo: China Daily/Long Yuanbin)
Yanhe Tujia autonomous county is one of 14 severely poverty-stricken counties in Guizhou province.
Located in the northwest of Tongren, it is the only severely poverty-stricken county in the city. By the end of last year, about 81,600 people in the county were still living below the poverty line, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the population.
Most of the impoverished residents live in mountainous areas, so relocation from poorly equipped, uninhabitable villages to towns and cities has become the most effective way of raising living standards. Last year, more than 12,000 people from 2,137 families in Yanhe were relocated.
"Initially, many residents were reluctant to move because they were accustomed to life in small communities, where people know each other well. Also, uncertainty about the quality of their new living conditions was a major concern," He Zhigang, Yanhe's deputy Party chief, said.
According to He, the county government paid for residents to visit proposed new residential areas, which played a crucial role in persuading them to move. In the past year, more than 1,700 impoverished families visited their future homes in Tongren.
After seeing the new garden view apartments, which are equipped with appliances and furniture provided by the local government, the villagers were won over. By the end of October, 53,077 people from 11,486 families had signed relocation agreements.
To better solve people's difficulties and encourage families to move to unfamiliar places, albeit with better public services and a wider range of opportunities, the Tongren government assigned hundreds of experienced Party officials to a poverty-alleviation team to improve governance and raise living standards.
Teams of three to eight county or city officials have been sent to both the villages and the new homes of relocated residents. The officials, who sign contracts for at least two-years, help the families under their care to solve problems related to the relocation process.
"To understand the villagers' basic needs and concerns, we must become friends and provide solutions. People will only trust us if they know we are helping them and will always be there when they have questions or difficulties," said Chen Changxu, Party chief of Tongren.
In May, to encourage more Party officials to work toward the alleviation of poverty, the city government released a guideline that included a number of supporting policies, such as job promotions and year-end bonuses for the best-performing officials, he added. Officials who sustain injuries in accidents related to the relocation process are provided with preferential hospital treatment and also receive government subsidies.