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  • Gordon Dumoulin

In pictures : 25 years poverty alleviation in Ningxia

Poverty alleviation does not come easy, it requires intense dedication and adaptation both from the people and local and central governments. It is not a miracle coming from the sky, it is damned hard work, trust and belief to strive for a better future. Since 1995, Ma De has taken more than 100,000 photos of the great changes in his hometown, Haiyuan county, #Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Influenced by a teacher from Shanghai back in middle school, Ma developed an interest in photography. In 1995, Ma De went out to work and bought his first camera, a Chinese made Phoenix 303.

In October 2012, Ma and other villagers decided to move from their village in Haiyuan County to Mingsha village in Zhongwei City (next to Shapotou Scenic Area, a well-known tourist site) under the country's poverty alleviation and relocation program. He and his family opened a restaurant near the site, and their living standard began to rise. Many regions in Ningxia are unfit for agriculture due to deserts and absence of fresh water, therefore people have been offered to relocate with government support and accompaniment starting new lives and agricultural or other business elsewhere in the province.

Ma keeps on photographing both in his new and old village, documenting the huge transformations having been made in the region from no longer mud houses with salt water wells to today’s brick houses with fresh water supply or from previously harsh, manual inefficient agriculture to today’s greenhouses with agricultural management support from local governments.

After several years of development, ‘immigrant’ Mingsha Village has become a "National Model Group of National Unity and Progress" and "China's Beautiful Leisure Village". In 2017, Mingsha Village got rid of poverty, and the per capita disposable income of villagers reached more than 9,400 yuan that year.

A selection of Ma’s photographs are part of a National Photographic Works Collection Exhibition “The Great Moments of Poverty Alleviation”

#china #povertyalleviation #chinesesociety #china2021

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