Ningxia residents begin the long climb out of poverty

Updated: 2012-12-19 08:37

By Peng Yining (China Daily)

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Microfinance and mountains

"You have to trust that the farmers have the ability to make a living on their own," said Long Zhipu, director of a microfinance company in Ningxia.

In 2011, Long's company, Ningxia Huimin Microfinance Co, provided 7,686 households with loans ranging from 3,000 to 20,000 yuan. Most of the farmers used the money to start their own businesses.

With a loan recovery rate as high as 99.99 percent, Long said the company is now planning to cover more villages in the southern mountainous area.

"Money needs to be transferred to farmers in accordance with the law of the market. Over-reliance on charity traps local people in a vicious circle of aid-dependency, corruption, market distortion and then even greater poverty," he said.

Sometimes charity funds don't get to the poorest families that need the most help, according to Li Jun, standing vice-president at the Ningxia Center for Environment and Poverty Alleviation, a grassroots organization.

"The money could easily be taken by village heads or people related to them," he said. "But skills, loans and businesses can't be stolen."

Those that can't "make blood by themselves" will still need direct donations, but only under the close supervision of the government, he added.

As an illiterate farmer with a badly wrecked spine, Liu Zhengfeng has only one way of making a living; by planting corn.

She receives 330 yuan a year from the poverty alleviation center. Li Jun said the money is insufficient, but at least it provides some spiritual comfort for the 51-year-old single mother, who has a 13-year-old daughter,

"That's all we could give. There are so many people out there waiting for help," said Li.

"Even though China is now the world's second-largest economy, there are still people in poverty. Please don't forget them," he urged.

Jiang Xueqing and Wu Wencong contributed to this story.


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