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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Tibetan nomads settle down in new communities

(Xinhua)

16:15, December 12, 2011

CHENGDU, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Samten's family of eight gathered around the hearth in their living room Monday, chatting over yak butter tea when heavy snow blanketed their home county of Aba.

The hearth, fueled by firewood, serves as a heater and kitchen stove in their Tibetan-style house, a wooden structure with five bedrooms and enclosed by a 400-square-meter backyard.

"It's a cozy home, warm in winter and cool in summer," said Samten, a 53-year-old herder in Tsannyi township of Aba county, a Tibetan community in southwest China's Sichuan province.

Until last year, Samten's family still kept to the traditional nomadic way of life. They had no fixed residence and migrated when the seasons changed, taking their tents, kitchen utensils and other necessities on horseback.

The tent that served as Samten's winter residence was often set up at the foot of a craggy mountain, with no roads, water or electricity.

"We had to carry water from the mountain at least 30 minutes away on foot," Samten said.

The family made about 20,000 yuan (3,156 U.S. dollars) a year by planting highland barley and collecting herbs, he said.

"We wouldn't have been able to afford to build a decent home, even if we had wanted to," Samten said.

Samten's family was one of the first to benefit from the provincial government's resettlement program. The 18-billion-yuan program, launched in 2009, involves the construction of 1,409 new communities consisting of 100,000 homes each for all of Sichuan's Tibetan nomads.

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