Across China: Tibetan farmers, herders pen new chapter of life after relocation

By: Xinhua
Updated: Sept. 15, 2020

Loden accompanies his wife Dekyi to their yard and attentively watches her take a slow walk.

"Take your time, no hurry," said Loden, 46. His wife has rheumatism.
"She is now so much better than when we just moved here," he said. "I am so happy."
The two are residents of the village of Caiqutang in Yangbajain Township, in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The village is inhabited by impoverished people who relocated from other areas of Tibet. "Caiqutang" means saline and alkaline land in the Tibetan language. The area was formerly a barren land where "even yaks could not survive."
However, thanks to a government project, Caiqutang has transformed itself into a thriving village home to relocated Tibetan farmers and herders from across the region, who are writing a new chapter in their lives.
According to official figures, Tibet has thus far relocated 266,000 impoverished residents to areas with better conditions. That number accounts for about 10 percent of all farmers and herders in the region and is more than one-third of Tibetans living under the poverty line.
Loden and Dekyi previously lived in the township of Chowa, under the administration of the city of Nagqu. Chowa is situated at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters above sea level and has thin air and cold weather. With the hostile natural conditions, his wife developed rheumatism, which gradually deprived her of her ability to work.
As her health deteriorated, Dekyi was eventually confined to her bed in 2011. Loden sold all of his sheep and took his wife to Lhasa to see a doctor. While Dekyi's condition did not improve, the family's living conditions worsened. That year, the family was placed on a poverty list.
As many farmers and herders fell into poverty due to illnesses, the regional committee of the Communist Party of China and the regional government made the decision to relocate families living in high-altitude areas to Yangbajain, a low-altitude area rich with geothermal resources. Authorities also sent medical experts to help treat villagers suffering from illnesses.
Among the 683 residents that moved to Caiqutang Village in 2017, 204 suffered from rheumatism, according to official figures. In the same year, the People's Hospital in Lhasa sent a working team to the village, while another regional-level hospital of Tibetan medicine built a rheumatism research base while treating patients there.
With the help of the working team, Dekyi went to Beijing for operations on her hip joints, free of charge. In addition, she received the help of Tibetan medicine. Now she is no longer confined to bed and can walk on her own.
"I usually walk around my yard," Dekyi said. "The doctors told me that it is good for my health."
The team also sent local children suffering from congenital heart diseases to have operations in Beijing. They have treated people with rickets and spinal deformities.
While getting healthier, local villagers are also getting wealthier.
In recent years, the village has invested in a variety of projects to power industries such as tourism, sheep-raising and handicraft-making, allowing locals to work at home.
"I used to make a living by herding," said Wangdra, from Nagqu's Xainza County. "Since moving to Caiqutang, I work as a security guard in the village kindergarten, and my wife makes felt and knitwear in the village cooperative."
"We have everything these days," he said. "I hope that my family will continue to be healthy and happy."