Over the last 30 years, China has made significant improvements in addressing economic disparity and food insecurity. 500 million people across the country have been lifted out of extreme poverty. However, this growing nation of 1.38 billion continues to suffer from wide-scale environmental problems and income equality.
Whilst the cities continue to develop, poverty remains significant, particularly those living in rural areas, often in the west of China. With poor infrastructure such as roads, health, and education facilities, life for these rural populations is incredibly difficult. Many people are unable to read or write, meaning they have little hope of getting a better job.
Many families are reliant on agriculture. However with the risk of natural disasters – and the extra pressure of climate change – and drought and floods, the loss of grain production is estimated to be around 20 million tonnes a year, resulting in food insecurity for many families.
Life in China can be a struggle for many families:
- 26 million people in China live on less than $1.09 (£1.40) a day (World Bank, 2016)
- Children in rural areas are 3 to 4 times more likely to suffer from stunting than those in urban areas (UN World Food Programme, 2016)
- Over 186 million people are vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters (UN World Food Programme, 2017)
- Over 200 million smallholder farmers live in China’s rural regions (UN World Food Programme, 2017)
Islamic Relief in China
We began work in China in response to flooding in the Shaanxi province in 2002. As well as emergency assistance, we helped communities build new homes for the victims of the flooding.
Since 2002, we have worked on multiple projects and have expanded our reach and we now work in five different provinces, building essential infrastructure like roads, water sources and health facilities, as well as education and seasonal distributions during Ramadan and Qurbani.
In the high mountains of Yongjing County, drought comes every year, making life unbearable for the villagers. Crops will not grow, the livestock they depend on dies, and the little water they can gather from streams is dirty, making them sick. As there are regular seasons, Islamic Relief built rainwater harvesting systems, which captures the clean rain during the wet season, and storing it for the dry months. Not only is the captured water sufficient for consumption by the communities, it is also sufficient to be channelled to help grow crops. This results in not only a clean supply of water, but also also food for the communities to survive during the droughts.