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Local company helps herdsmen fight sand and poverty

By Melanie Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-21 07:39

Solar panels help develop green energy in Ordos. Elion, the Ordos-based company, leads the efforts of local communities to tackle desertification and alleviate poverty. [Photo by Melanie Peters/For China Daily] 

Babu Siren runs a thriving business that includes restaurants and dune buggy rides in Hanggin Banner of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. He also farms sheep and licorice.

Life is a far cry from more than a decade ago when he struggled to support his family as a nomadic herder in the Kubuqi Desert, which was referred to as the "sea of death" because of its harsh conditions and the poverty in which people around it lived. The sand dunes had swallowed the grasslands.

And, sandstorms from there even polluted Beijing, which is 1,200 kilometers away.

Babu Siren, who is from the Mongolian ethnic group, and a large number of other desert dwellers are now reaping the benefits from the work of local companies and communities.

One example is Ordos-based Elion Resource Group that has invested more than 30 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) in the past 30 years in a plan to tackle desertification and alleviate poverty.

Babu Siren says during the peak season in summer, he hosts some 1,000 visitors a day, and makes 150,000 yuan a year.

"I no longer have to worry where my family's next meal is coming from."

Ahead of the 6th Kubuqi International Desert Forum, to be held from July 28 to 30, Elion says its model can be replicated in other parts of the world to fight drought and poverty.

The forum will be held in the desert and is seen as a major activity in international efforts on such front. This year's theme is "greening the Belt and Road, sharing desert eco-economy".

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