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Ningxia residents begin the long climb out of poverty (5)

By Peng Yining (China Daily)

13:32, December 19, 2012

In 2011, 6.95 billion yuan in poverty-relief funding was spent in Ningxia, according to a report from the Ningxia Poverty Alleviation and Development Office. Meanwhile, the Ningxia Charity Federation received more than 35 million yuan in charitable donations from home and abroad.

Despite the help, the average income of the farmers in the mountainous area is 3,415 yuan, 57.7 percent of the national average, according to the poverty alleviation office.

"Instead of having a blood transfusion, helping the body to make blood is the fundamental solution," according to a report released by the Ningxia government.

In addition to direct donations, the government launched a poverty-relief project earlier this year, helping the poor by providing job opportunities and vocational training.

The project, Huang He Shan Gu, or Yellow River Valley Charity, involves six industrial parks and has attracted 18.2 billion yuan in investment.

Yang Yanping, a 33-year-old farmer, said he benefited from the vocational training and became a veterinarian in 2010.

"My father passed away in 2009 and a drought destroyed all my crops," he said. "I was desperate."

Although charity was an option, it would take a long time for donations to ease the family's suffering and so Yang bought three sheep with borrowed funds. His family now owns more than 60 sheep and five cows. The animals bring in 30,000 yuan every year for the family of five.

"There are risks in starting a business on your own, compared with waiting for someone else to feed you," said Yang. "But I have to take that risk to live a better life, a decent life."

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