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Nomadic lifestyle receding into past

By WANG JING in Luqu, Gansu  (China Daily)

08:26, September 20, 2012

Herdsman Geri Tashi used to believe he was destined to lead the nomadic life that his ancestors have led for centuries.

But the 48-year-old now believes that settling down in one place and living in a brick-and-mortar house is a better lifestyle.

"The nomadic life we previously led was OK, but now the biggest benefits after settlement are it's good for kids to go to school and the elderly can see a doctor more conveniently," said Tashi, a resident of Gaxiu village of Gahai township in Luqu county, Gansu province.

Luqu county belongs to the Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in the province. Residents of Gahai township, located in the southwestern part of the county, with an average altitude of 3,500 meters, are mostly Tibetans living off animal husbandry.

According to Tashi, they have seven family members. He and his wife have "retired", and are now mainly responsible for housekeeping and taking care of their grandchildren. Their eldest son and daughter-in-law are still herding every day, riding a motorcycle to the ranch 11 kilometers from home. Their second son has graduated from secondary school, and has not yet found a job. Tashi also has two grandchildren, aged 8 and 1 year old.

Walking into Tashi's home, you see the clean courtyard and greenhouse which is warm and comfortable. In the room, there is a sofa, TV, bed, cabinets and other basic daily necessities. He put all his savings from the past 20 years into building the house. With subsidies from the local government, he spent a total of more than 100,000 yuan ($15,840).

The family's main income comes from herding. Regarded as a wealthy family in the community, the Tashi family owns 607 hectares of grassland and more than 100 head of cattle. They annually sell about 10 head of cattle for about 2,000 yuan each.

"Before, we ate meat and drank wine during Spring Festival. Now the whole family will sit around and watch TV," Tashi said.

In recent years, Gahai township has begun promoting the herdsmen settlement construction project, and has made significant economic and social benefits. So far, a total of 514 households, about 52.5 percent of the population, can enjoy settlement life. The project has greatly improved the quality of life of local people, as well as played an active role in restoring the grassland vegetation.

Gaxiu village has 301 households, and annual income per capita has reached 4,580 yuan. Since 2005, the village is gradually building settlements for more than 100 households, with an average area of 129 square meters and a total investment of 8 million yuan.
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