Monday 27 December 2010

Resettled Tibetan nomads struggling in new life

(, Sep24, 2010) Tibetan nomads who had been forced by the Chinese government into fixed urban settlements since about seven years ago under a controversial environment protection plan are finding their new life even more difficult to adjust to, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Sep 22. "The money for selling 40 yaks and 25 sheep has been used," it quoted 33-year-old former nomad Zhaduo as saying. "It is so expensive to now live near the town center. Everything costs big money."

The report said Zhaduo, who had been moved away from his ancestral home at Rima village in Yushu County in Qinghai Province grassland, still misses his yaks and the life of a herdsman. The village lies near the source of China's three major rivers – the Yangtze, the Yellow River, and the Lancang River – which form the world's highest plateau wetland, known as Asia's water tower.

China started moving people out of the 150,000-sq-kilometre Sanjiangyuan region more than five years ago in a bid to repair the ecological system claimed to be damaged by excessive herding and to transform the area into an unpopulated nature reserve. The report said so far some 50,000 herdsmen, mostly Tibetans, had been moved closer to the town centres near their old homes.

Zhaduo’s family, now living in Jiajiniang village, twelve minutes' drive from Gyegu township of Yushu, survives by picking mountain-grown caterpillar fungus. The season for it is from May to June, with the harvest being dependent on the vagaries of nature.

The report admitted that the government will now have to find ways to provide more forms of aid, other than handing out quotas of free grain and cash subsidies to the resettled herdsmen.

The report cited Ping Zhiqiang, an official with the provincial Development and Reform Commission of Qinghai, as saying the government should help resettled herdsman master a marketable trade and assist the region in developing a profitable sector. Only then can the improvement of the ecosystem be secured.

This has not happened so far.

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