Eking Out an Existence in China’s Remote Badlands

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Multimedia Slideshow: Rural Villages in Transition The village of Dalaochi in China's Gansu province blends in with the khaki-colored landscape. Enlarge image inde i

The actual village of Dalaochi in China’s Gansu province blends in with the khaki-colored landscape.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

Dalaochi village Enlarge image inde i

Doug Seaside for NPR

Wei Zijian, left, and his cousin, Wei Xiaowu, in the courtyard of the younger Wei's home. Enlarge image inde i

Wei Zijian (L) and his relative Wei Xiaowu within the courtyard from the younger Wei’s home. Almost all the families in Dalaochi are generally surnamed Wei.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

In good years, Wei Zijian grows wheat, corn and potatoes. But there's been almost no rain this year, Enlarge image inde i

In good many years, Wei Zijian increases wheat, corn as well as potatoes. But there has been almost no rainfall this year, therefore his fields lie fallow.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

Many people on China's loess plateau live in caves dug into the hillsides. Enlarge image inde i

Many people upon China’s loess plateau reside in caves dug into the hillsides. The actual cave dwellings are generally warm in the winter and awesome in the summer. This is actually the door in order to Wei Zijian’s cave home.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

The interior of Wei's cave home, where he was born 50 years ago. Enlarge image inde i

The interior of Wei’s cave home, in which he was born 50 years ago. This individual moved out of this particular cave a few years ago, though he occasionally sleeps here in the hot summer season. Clothing is piled atop a kang , or a sleeping platform.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

Wei Zijian proudly displays a certificate of academic excellence his son earned Enlarge image inde i

Wei Zijian proudly displays a certificate associated with excellence his son gained for being one of the best trainees in his course.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

The actual village of Dalaochi is the only settlement along a stretch of road in mountainous northwest Gansu province. The actual village’s mud-brick buildings seem to be a extension of the khaki-colored world on which they’re constructed.

Character Wei Zijian squats at the entrance towards the village, drinking from a jar associated with green tea. The main reason he’s not away planting wheat, corn and potatoes is simple.

“They will not grow, ” he admits that. “There hasn’t been enough rain this year. ”

In fact , there hasn’t been enough rain in charge of 10 years.

Lifestyle in poverty-stricken Dalaochi exemplifies how far some non-urban areas lag regarding China’s cities. It also illustrates the huge challenges the Chinese government faces in improving life for Chinese maqui berry farmers.

Dalaochi is situated on Nw China’s arid loess level, an area about the size of France. Loess soil is basically compacted dust. Stripped of trees and grass, the soil is easily broken or washed away by wind or water.

To eke out a living in these barren badlands of soaring cliffs and plunging ravines would seem to be a great feat of survival. But people have farmed the property here for a minimum of 2, 500 years, terracing the hills into a landscape of giant actions.

To the rare occasions when it does rainfall, locals catch water in concrete cisterns constructed outside each home.

On the village temple, residents associated with Dalaochi pray towards the Dragon King, who in Chinese folk religion is said to bring atmosphere and rain. Still, agriculture doesn’t produce enough to live upon, and Wei and also other locals subsist upon government handouts.

Traditionally, nearly all loess level inhabitants lived in caverns dug into the slopes.

Wei, for example , utilized to reside in the cave dwelling in which he was born 50 years ago. Inside, a conventional kang , or even heated sleeping platform, dominates the main room. Newspapers covering the wall drop away in places in order to reveal the earth beneath. Two more bedrooms extend deeper into the hillside.

The good thing for Wei is that your dog is moved out of their cave and in to a brand new, one-room house just steps away. This individual bought it for about $350.

An additional source of pride for Wei is his two teenage children’s academic achievement; he beams as he displays their accreditation for excellence at school. Wei themself never learned to read or write.

To pay for the children’s school fees, Wei says their wife has been working as a migrant laborer for the past 10 years. She can make $70 to $80 a month weaving grain sacks, twice as much as what Wei earns from farming.

Whenever asked what his best hope for his children is, his solution is immediate.

“College, ” he says confidently. “We’ll take out a loan to cover their college tuition, just as we have for high school education. ”

His or her family has lived in Dalaochi for decades, longer than anybody can remember. Dalaochi is among the couple of villages left in the region. The majority of the others are actually moved.

“As soon as my kids finish college and get jobs somewhere else, we old folks are going to depart here and go live with them, ” he says, without a trace of nostalgia in his tone of voice. “It doesn’t rainfall. There’s just no chance to live here. ”

Points have definitely improved in Dalaochi. During the past decade, the village offers gotten electricity and a lot families now have televisions. But many older village citizens have never seen a train or plane. Most are therefore poor they can’t afford to eat meat apart from at Chinese New Year.

China’s government has recently outlined its vision of building a “new socialist countryside” which is clean, successful as well as democratic. Dalaochi shows just how far they need to proceed.

-+011000110+- A visit to an remote, poverty-stricken village in China’s mountainous Northwest shows how far some non-urban areas lag behind the country’s cities — and the challenges Beijing encounters in tackling the issue.

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