Wu Weiyong and his family recently moved into a new 240-square-meter home in the village of Tongjing, located in Bijie Prefecture in southwest China\'s Guizhou Province. The family makes about 200,000 yuan (about 30,880 U.S. dollars) every year by growing and selling herbs. \"Previously, we lived in a tiny 30-square-meter cottage. It only took a hailstorm to peel the roof off,\" said Wu. Wu\'s family is among the beneficiaries of a continuing poverty alleviation project that was first created by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the country\'s central government in Bijie in 1988. Over the past 23 years, the project has reduced the impoverished population in this area to 318,400 in 2011, a far cry from 1988\'s figure of 3.12 million. The prefecture\'s absolute poverty rate has dived from 65.4 percent in 1988 to 7.6 percent in 2011. Bijie has been afflicted with poverty and environmental degradation for years, as local farmers have distressed the land there through desertification and deforestation. The United Nations previously listed the prefecture as an \"uninhabitable region.\" The village of Tongjing was hit particularly hard by desertification. Over 80 percent of its land is uninhabitable due to water loss and soil erosion, and it is frequently hit by landslides and other natural disasters. In June 1988, Hu Jintao, then Secretary of the CPC Guizhou Committee, proposed setting up an experimental poverty-reduction zone in Bijie. Hu\'s proposal was designed to address the region\'s problems with poverty, environmental degradation and its rapidly exploding population. In the 23 years since Hu\'s proposal, the area has made great strides in alleviating poverty and building a self-sufficient economy. Residents typically make money by planting herbs and fruit trees, which has also helped to reverse desertification in the region. Ecologically fragile areas like Tongjing require a diverse set of solutions, according to Peng Zhucai, the village\'s Party secretary. The CPC and the government have worked to improve roads leading to the village, allowing people and businesses to travel in and out of the area with greater efficiency. They have also brought agricultural experts to the region to help the local farmers improve their harvests, Peng said. Over the past five years, the per capita net income of the village\'s 3,100 farmers has doubled. The village\'s 12 communities now have roads connecting them together. The CPC has made remarkable achievements in alleviating poverty since the country began its process of reform and opening-up in 1978, said Zheng Wenkai, deputy director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. China\'s impoverished population decreased to 26.88 million in 2010, according to Zheng. This is a marked improvement from the 250 million people living in poverty in 1978. China has managed to feed nearly 200 million poverty-stricken people over the past 32 years, said Zheng, who added that China was the first developing country to meet the poverty-reduction target specified in the UN Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight international development goals created by the UN in September 2000. In the next ten years, China\'s poverty-alleviation efforts will focus on expanding access to cultural, educational and medical resources, said Zheng.