The Poor Rural Communities Development Project (2005-2011) was implemented in the three provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi in China. The project helped to explore, develop and promote a number of approaches to poverty reduction in rural China, and invested in a variety of civil works and other activities to improve farmers’ livelihoods security and access to basic services.
It was a complex multisectoral project including assistance for agricultural production, rural infrastructure, basic education and health, and community capacity building. It was also a highly innovative project which spearheaded the development of a robust participatory approach, and the project’s outreach to the poorest and most disadvantaged ethnic minority people in western China was extraordinary.
About 501,690 households in 18 nationally designed poor counties benefitted from provision of basic rural infrastructure, including village roads and paths, water supply, water conservancy works, rural electrification, rural energy and sanitation. Ethnic minority peoples comprised two thirds of the project’s primary beneficiaries. Per capita incomes of the farmers in the project areas increased considerably, and the incidence of poverty in project villages registered a strong decline.
Notwithstanding China’s tremendous economic success, about 208 million Chinese still lived below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day of consumption in 2005, according the Bank’s estimates.
Almost all of China’s poor resided in rural areas, and these poor were heavily concentrated in natural resource deficient mountainous areas of the central and western provinces where single sector poverty reduction measures have had limited sustainable impact.
Certain ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, and women were the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
Overcoming the remaining rural poverty required innovative approaches and continued strong support.
Development work around the world has found that giving stakeholders a voice in project design, management, and evaluation improves results. The Government of China recognized the importance of strengthening the participatory approach in poverty reduction work.
The project helped to explore and promote a number of approaches to poverty reduction in the three project provinces including the participatory approach, strengthened outreach to the poorest villages and most disadvantaged ethnic minority people, gender equality, and assistance for people with disabilities.