Climbing the mountain within : understanding development impacts and overcoming change in rural southwest China Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/sf268800r

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  • Development in China over the last thirty years has emphasized infrastructural and economic advancement. Despite enormous gains in living standards in the industrialized eastern provinces, much of China's interior and western provinces remain relatively underdeveloped. Populated mostly by ethnic minorities, the southwest province of Yunnan (meaning south of the clouds) has in recent years undergone rapid and expansive change driven by the "Opening the West Campaign." However, this campaign is focused mostly on hydroelectric potential and tourism as the principal formula for growth, rather than intervention that is more directly aimed at improving the livelihoods of those who live in the most remote parts of this province. This study identifies the impacts of development in a small village in northwest Yunnan Province named Dimaluo, as understood by the locals whose lives are most affected. This study revealed that hill slope erosion, government transparency in decision-making and information sharing, and adequate compensation for land and displacement were perceived as significant threats to individual and community wellbeing. Utilizing qualitative data acquired in summer 2008, this thesis directly informs the creation of measurable indicators to assess the socio-cultural and economic impacts of dam construction and hydropower development in this region. Moreover, it illustrates the presence of environmental conflict between indigenous groups and governmental and private sectors. The results of this research contribute to the larger body of knowledge applicable to development projects around the world, in which natural resources are reallocated from localized communities to serve larger economic and infrastructural needs.
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