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China Daily Global / 2020-07 / 31 / Page013

Poverty alleviation on target

By LIU JUNWEN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-31 00:00

Precision in identifying who needs help and tailoring measures to help them is the key to lifting the remaining poor population out of poverty

This year, China's goal of eliminating absolute poverty on the whole will be completed. According to China's current poverty line, the number of rural poor in China has been reduced from 98.99 million in 2012 to 5.51 million in 2019, with an average annual poverty reduction of more than 10 million; and the incidence of rural poverty has dropped from 10.2 percent to 0.6 percent. This means that China has basically eliminated the overall absolute poverty.

China's success is closely related to the choice of poverty alleviation path and top-level design. Since the 1980s, China's regional poverty population has been reduced on a large scale. However, the marginal effect of poverty reduction has been continuously decreasing, as the poor are more dispersed and the major causes of poverty are more intractable.

In response to this challenge, in 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the concept of targeted poverty alleviation, the core of which is the "six precisions", namely defining the poor precisely, arranging targeted programs, utilizing capital efficiently, taking household-based measures, dispatching officials based on village conditions, and achieving the set goals.

First, identifying who exactly needs help. In May 2014, China issued a special document on poor villages and households identification and registering, providing institutional guarantees for the work. In 2014, 800,000 officials nationwide went to rural areas and identified 128,000 villages and 89.62 million people in poverty, which helped build a unified information system and big data management platform nationwide.

The system is under timely and dynamic adjustment and management. In follow-up examinations from 2015 to 2016, 8.07 million more poor people were added to the list and 9.29 million people removed from it. Knowing "who exactly needs help" laying a solid foundation for implementing the measures and examination and evaluation of targeted poverty alleviation. From 2017 to 2019, the Chinese government implemented the dynamic management of registered poor people, increased poverty alleviation measures and the situation of poverty-returning, and further standardized poverty alleviation information in a timely and accurate manner.

Second, establishing an accountability system to solve the problem of "who will carry out the work".Adhering to a working mechanism whereby the central government makes overall plans, provincial authorities take overall responsibility, and city and county governments ensure implementation. China has put in place a system that top leaders of the Party and government at the provincial, city, county, township and village levels working together to alleviate poverty.

China has selected more than 3 million officials from government departments at or above the county level and from State-owned enterprises and government-affiliated institutions to serve as village-stationed secretaries, so as to provide "last mile" support.

Poverty alleviation has a broad participation from the whole society, comprising various programs with different focuses and measures. For example, the collaboration between the eastern and western regions has been deepened. A total of 267 counties (or cities and districts) with strong economies in East China have paired with 406 poor counties in the western region, and 320 institutions affiliated to the central governments have paired up to 592 poor counties. At the same time, thousands of State-owned enterprises participated in various programs to aid more than 10,000 villages in poverty, helping solve the problems related to electricity, water and transportation.

Third, promoting tailored poverty alleviation projects to solve the problem of "how poverty alleviation should be carried out". A demand-oriented mechanism for poverty alleviation action has been established. Through in-depth analysis of the root causes of poverty, initiatives are tailored to the needs of different localities and individuals, which are consistent with the precise identification and the development needs of the poor. A large number of effective poverty alleviation models have been adopted, such as relocation, ecological compensation, development of education, securing basic needs through social security.

China has encouraged working-age people in poverty to create a better life by working hard, guided them to have better education to end the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and improved the social security system to ensure that all social services are accessible.

Fourth, establishing a strict assessing and evaluation system to solve the problem of how to apply an exit mechanism. The strictest examination and evaluation standards are set to deliver the "two assurances and three guarantees", which refers to assurances of adequate food and clothing, and guarantees of access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing. First, governments at all levels examine, audit and assess the poverty alleviation work of lower level governments. Second, third party institutions such as universities or research institutes are introduced to carry out the investigation into the effects of the poverty alleviation efforts. Third, there is social supervision, whose results are an important basis for the evaluation of provincial Party committees, government leaders and leading groups. Officials who fail to alleviate poverty will be held to account. This is to ensure that the poverty alleviation results can stand the test of history.

In the seven years since the implementation of targeted poverty alleviation, the governments at all levels have carried out various and innovative practices, mobilized all walks of the society to participate in the endeavor, and most important, stimulated the endogenous vitality and motivation of the impoverished people for development. All practices have provided new ideas and injected new impetus into global poverty reduction.

In his message to the Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum held in Beijing in 2017, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: "Targeted poverty reduction strategies are the only way to reach those farthest behind and achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and its experiences can provide valuable lessons to other developing countries."

The author is the director of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.



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