POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN CHINA

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China has already lifted 700 million people out of extreme poverty – that is, people who were living on less than one-and-a-quarter US dollars a day. Nothing on this scale has ever been seen in human history. But China wants to eradicate it completely by 2020. Here’s how they’re planning to achieve this ambitious goal.

First up – China identified where the “extremely poor” were concentrated in the country – mainly in remote rural areas and where ethnic minorities live.

And extreme poverty is most common amongst women, children, minority groups and the elderly.

Secondly, they identified precisely which families and individuals were the poorest in these poorer communities. China’s plan is to focus efforts on these people and monitor the progress.

Most of these poorest communities depend on agriculture – but in some places the land is too poor to provide a decent income. Ecological projects offer a win-win to these communities. Over- grazed pasture can be restored to flourishing grasslands. Poor farmland can return to bio-diverse forests.

This not only improves the environment for local people – it attracts visitors, who want to experience the wild beauty of China’s mountains, forests and desert… Tourism creates jobs and other opportunities for the community.

Businesses can flourish even in these remote areas – but their isolation makes starting a business a big challenge.

China’s solution? Connect even the remotest communities to the national road network.

And prioritise extending high speed internet across the country.

Distance doesn’t have to be a bar to entrepreneurship.

Nor does gender: special loans for the poorest women give a jump start to those who want to start a business.

Education is one important way out of poverty –

So the poorest children in China now get free schooling up to the age of 16.

In remote areas, new school dormitories, and living expense grants, enable children to stay in education longer. Special subsidies encourage the best teachers to come to these remote schools.

Adult migrant workers from these poorest areas can also get financial help to enroll in vocational training that gives them the skills they need in the workplace.

In some villages it may just be impossible to ensure a secure, reasonable living. So 10 million people have been helped to move to places where they can get work.

What China has learnt is that raising people out of poverty isn’t a job that’s done once and for all. A single piece of bad luck can send someone sliding back down again. Preventing this, is a key strategy to reach China’s 2020 target.

There’s now social insurance for people living in these poor rural areas and medical insurance, so a bout of illness doesn’t destroy fragile gains…

Perhaps the most innovative idea is one that’s particular to China – pairing.

Communities, organisations, companies and individuals from wealthier parts of the country pledge to walk side by side with these poverty- stricken communities to help them reach financial security.

The richer community shares its experts, knowledge and relative wealth with their poorer country cousins.

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