Across China: Relocation helps mountain villagers avoid geological disasters
LANZHOU, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- After moving into his new house, Liu Changhai said he no longer fears rainy days and enjoys the fresh air after the rains.
Liu's family of five now live in a 96-square-meter urban house equipped with a small courtyard, flush toilet, and gas stove in Lanzhou New Area in the provincial capital Lanzhou, northwest China's Gansu Province, a national-level development zone.
"Rainy days were my nightmares. I used to dream of moving out of the mountain someday," said Liu, adding that some houses in his village were slipping downwards, and some even fell along with landslides from cliffs.
Rains battered his hometown, mountainous Zhenzhuangmo Village in Zhouqu County of Gansu, more frequently around 2008. At first, his family had to repair their old house almost every year. Liu started building a new home in the village by 2020, spending over 200,000 yuan (about 29,570 U.S. dollars) with savings earned from manual labor as a migrant worker.
The family moved in around the Spring Festival of 2021, but Liu returned to work in Chengdu, the capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, for work soon. About a week after Liu arrived in Chengdu, his township officials called him, saying an overnight storm had cracked his new house.
In 2021, a risk-aversion project initiated by the provincial government relocated villagers living in disaster-stricken regions to the Lanzhou New Area. Residing in a village assessed as inhabitable by experts, Liu and other villagers whose houses had perished in natural disasters applied for relocation soon after they heard about the project.
The project offers a subsidy of 100,000 yuan per household in Zhouqu County. Liu only paid 44,000 yuan for the real estate. Currently, more than 5,000 people from over 1,200 households have resettled in the area, according to the authorities of Zhouqu County.
"A direct bus transport service to downtown Lanzhou is available here. Children can go to school more conveniently," said Liu, adding that there are more job opportunities and free vocational training.
This year, Liu works at a construction site nearby, no longer outside the province, and his wife has found a job at a local greenhouse. The couple's monthly income exceeds 7,000 yuan.
Liu's neighbor, Yang Tiaonyu, 29, is a social worker in the community. "Whenever the new residents come, I introduce the neighborhood to them. I love my new job and find it meaningful," she said. Next year, Yang's 2-year-old daughter will attend kindergarten, which is only 500-meter away from her new home.
According to Ding Jusheng, director of the provincial natural resources department, the relocation project is a fundamental way to remove the threats posed by disasters to residents.
Over 50 percent of Gansu's territory area is prone to natural disasters. The department said the province not only plans to improve residential safety and life quality via relocation but will also focus on industry, employment, and public services to increase household income.
Though the cracked house was assessed as a dilapidated and uninhabitable building, it is preserved in Liu's cellphone and a photo frame in the urban home.