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construction materials such as wood, steel, and cement. For resettled villagers, this fluc-
tuation translated into serious difficulty using their compensation funds to build houses of
comparable quality to the ones they had lost. The villages of Goujie and Wangjiang were
particularly hard hit; in these two villages, poor-quality construction and recurring land-
slides resulted in seventeen houses being declared too dangerous for habitation. These un-
lucky households were resettled twice. 6
But the Xiaowan and Nuozhadu Dam projects provide evidence of improving compens-
ation practices. Resettlement for these projects—in Fengqing and Lancang Counties, re-
spectively—was begun in the late 2000s and is ongoing in some locations. Households be-
ing resettled for the Nuozhadu project are receiving about eight times more compensation
funding than the households at Manwan received roughly two decades earlier, even ad-
justing for inflation. Some households in Lancang County reported receiving as much as
100,000 yuan (around U.S.$16,000) in total compensation. This represents financial capital
that can be used for new housing, educational expenses for children, business investment,
or job training. It is the seed money from which people can rebuild their lives. 7
In 2009, I had an opportunity to walk through the housing development for resettled
people in Fengqing County near the Xiaowan Dam site, which locals called the “migrant
village”( yimincun ),whereseveralhundredfamiliesnowlivedintwo-storycementhouses.
The living conditions were reasonably good; many of the families had only recently relo-
cated and were still decorating their new houses. One family had carefully hung a red cal-
ligraphy banner from their front door that invoked the protection of the Buddhist goddess
of mercy; it read, “People in the care of Guanyin” ( Ren zai Guanyin yanghe zhong ). Many
of the houses were equipped with garages, which, as far as I could see, were filled with
farm tools and bags of fertilizer rather than with automobiles. The villagers who lived in
the resettlement village now had easy access to the township market center, although many
were forced to travel considerable distance, sometimes several kilometers, to work on their
land plots.
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