Ambitious projects delivered by Islamic Relief have transformed living standards and livelihoods in three villages in rural China.

Families living in Huanggu village, in Gansu province, faced tough conditions in one of the poorest communities in the poverty-stricken county of Shibing. The average annual family income was just 730 Yuan (nearly GBP £76), with many relying on remittances from relatives working elsewhere.

The newly hardened road in Huanggu village.

The newly hardened road in Huanggu village.

Our project improved 1,900 metres of road, making it easier for local people to transport goods for sale at market. We installed three water tanks and an underground pipe network, which now provides families with water at home and ensures they no longer struggle for water during the drought season. We also constructed 100 household toilets and a sewerage system.

Increasing family incomes

Bio-gas energy systems now turn waste into heat and electricity, enabling families to reduce their energy costs and also helping protect the environment as fewer trees are cut down for fuel. We also provided local people with training on disaster-prevention, health and sanitation as well as agricultural techniques to help them boost their income.

Lingshan village gained a new school and health clinic.

Lingshan village gained a new school and health clinic.

According to local government figures, the annual income of the entire village has already increased by 700 Yuan (more than GBP £72, which is almost an entire family’s earnings before the project).

Poor families in Sichuan province also benefitted from a comprehensive development project in Lingshan village. In addition to the services provided in Huanggu, the people of Lingshan also gained access to a new village school and health clinic.

Escaping the poverty trap

In Ningxia Hui Autonomous province, we focussed on livelihoods in Haiyuan County – where tens of thousands of farming families live below the national subsistence level. We irrigated 1,000 mu (nearly 67 hectares) of farming land and built 185 livestock shelters in Nanbao village. Local families were given ewes and agricultural tools, enabling them to make a living from livestock or arable farming.

Livestock distributed in Nanbao village.

Livestock distributed in Nanbao village.

Environmentally-friendly measures included reforestation, with thousands of trees and saplings planted, and solar energy water heaters installed to reduce dependence on fuel.

Vocational training to help families to improve their incomes was provided at the newly-constructed cultural centre, which also offers space for recreational activities to enhance wellbeing in the village.

Some 350 farmers were trained, and with the help of local authorities 1,160 people were supported to enhance their livelihoods. In addition, access to healthcare services was also improved in Nanbao, thanks to a brand new village clinic.

The projects were completed in 2014. Islamic Relief continues to increase its focus on integrated sustainable development, an approach that has the potential to transform poor communities by improving living standards and giving families the opportunity to permanently escape poverty.