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Swapping tents for modern accommodation: Settling the Kazakh Nomads

08-23-2012 13:33 BJT

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In the western city of Tacheng, where the nomadic Kazakh minority is being encouraged to settle down by the local authorities, the housing program has big advantages, but some Kazakhs are reluctant to abandon their traditions.

Giving up a life on the road, traditionally nomadic, the Kazakhs are being convinced to swap their tents for more modern accommodation.

Xu Pingping is one of the officials in charge of the project. She introduced us to some of the settled nomads, and told us the reasons behind the settlement program.

In the western city of Tacheng, where the nomadic Kazakh minority is
being encouraged to settle down by the local authorities, the housing
program has big advantages, but some Kazakhs are reluctant to abandon
their traditions.

Xu Pingping, Vice Party Secretary, Qibaerjidie Community, said, "This community was planned by the government and we've been doing a lot to convince them to settle. Living as nomads in the mountains, they are really missing out on the benefits of society, like water, roads and electricity. One of the main reasons for this community is to make sure they can have all these things."

The new arrivals have even managed to bring their culture with them to their new homes. Language and folk crafts have survived the transition to bricks and mortar. Even the decor and layout resemble the style you’d find in a Yurt, the Kazakhs' traditional tent.

In the western city of Tacheng, where the nomadic Kazakh minority is being
encouraged to settle down by the local authorities, the housing program
has big advantages, but some Kazakhs are reluctant to abandon their
traditions.

Nuerlan Aitihuerman moved here with his family last year. Nomadic life was tough for seniors like him and, although settling wasn't an easy decision, he has no regrets.

Nuerlan Aitihuerman, Settled Kazakh, said, "Back in the mountains, health and education were big problems. When we were ill, we had to walk over 100 kilometers to the nearest hospital. But here, we have schools and hospitals. Of course we miss elements of the past. But I've quickly got used to settled life. It’s really going to benefit my children and grandchildren."

The program is voluntary, but it’s receiving a lot of interest from nomads looking for a more comfortable existence.

There are definitely benefits to settled living, modern conveniences, sturdy walls and access to amenities. But there are some Kazakhs who are reluctant to give up their nomadic way of life.

In the mountains around Tacheng, some herders still continue the nomadic tradition. Hoalia and her family are part of the settlement project and spend the winter months indoors. But as the weather gets warmer they head for the mountains to herd their horses and goats.

They grew up as nomads. And while it's partly the good grazing land that keeps them coming back to the mountains, it's also nostalgia for the old ways.

Hoalia, Kazakh Herder, said, "It’s a big part of our tradition. We come up here from May to October every year. The grass is very good for the horses, which means the milk we get from them is also good. We like life up here."

Conditions up here are far from luxurious. But for some, there's comfort in what you know.

Going from life on the road to a settled existence, it's not an easy transition, but here in Tacheng, Kazakh nomads are getting a chance at a better life while keeping their culture and traditions intact.

CCTV reporter Fintan Monaghan with Kazakh family.

 

Editor:Bai Yang |Source: CCTV.com

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