Dozens of villagers in China’s Sichuan province living on a high 800 metre cliff have now finally been relocated to an urban housing estate.
Atulie’er village became famous after photos emerged showing adults and children precariously scaling the cliff using just rattan ladders.
Around 84 households have now been moved into newly built flats as part of a local poverty alleviation campaign. It’s part of a bigger national campaign to end poverty by the end of 2020.
Atulie-er village made headlines in 2016 when it was revealed that its villagers had to scale precarious ladders to get home, carrying babies and anything the village needed.
Soon afterwards the government stepped in and replaced these with steel ladders. The households have now been moved to the county town of Zhaojue, around 70km away.
They will be rehoused in furnished apartment blocks, which come in models of 50, 75 and 100 sq m – depending on the number of people in each household.
It’ll be a big change for many of these villagers, who are from the Yi minority and have lived in Atulie-er for generations.
Photos on Chinese state media showed villagers beaming, one of them telling state media outlet CGTN that he was “so happy that I got a good house today”.
The government subsidises such housing schemes up to 70%, but even then many families weren’t able to afford the apartments. Many poor families were forced to borrow the money putting them in even more debt.
According to Chinese state media outlet China Daily, each person will have to pay 2,500 yuan ($352) for this particular move – so for a family of four, the cost would come up to 10,000 yuan.
The Atulie’er villagers will share this new apartment complex with impoverished residents across Sichuan province. Around 30 households will remain in the Atulie’er village- which is set to turn into a tourism spot.
According to Chinese state media outlet China Daily, these households will effectively be in charge of local tourism, running inns and showing tourists around.
The county government has ambitious plans – planning to install a cable car to transport tourists to the village and to develop some surrounding areas. An earlier report said there were plans to turn the village into a vacation resort, with state media saying the state would pump 630 million yuan into investment.
Though these developments are likely to bring more jobs to the area, it’s not clear what safeguards are in place to make sure that the site’s ecological areas are protected and not at risk of being overdeveloped.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared that China will eradicate poverty in China by 2020. There’s no one standard definition of poverty across all of China, as it differs from province to province.