Living with Livestock: The Nu and the Value of Local Voice in Rural Chinese Development



The Nu (Yunnan Province) are a rural, economically marginal ethnic minority in southwestern China known for their tradition of raising livestock in pens built under or next to their homes. The local government used the federal Targeted Poverty Alleviation (TPA) program to build freestanding pens and relocate livestock in response to the perceived poverty of the Nu. The project had limited success. We argue that the program’s failure left the Nu out of decision-making and program planning process. Our discussion explores an alternative approach to the top-down structure of TPA and incorporates ethnic minorities in decision-making. By listening to local voices and embracing ethnographic–anthropological methods, the governments can improve the effectiveness of TPA in ethnic regions of China. Keywords: Living with livestock, indigenous development, Targeted Poverty Alleviation, cultural tradition, the Nu people

Author Biographies

Shengyu Pei, South-Central University for Nationalities

Associate Professor

Jeffrey Harris Cohen, The Ohio State University

anthropology, Professor






Policy Evaluation and Review