Working together to eradicate poverty

Translation from Chinese (amity.org.cn) by Suzanne

This article was published on Amity's Chinese website and illustrates how Amity cooperates with various organizations and stakeholders to eradicate jointly poverty in impoverished areas of China. The first step is to conduct an assessment and give the affected communities the chance to speak. However, migration into the cities and remote locations continues and leads to various structural problems local communities are exposed to.

Poverty eradication in China - a Sustainable Development Goal

The United Nations commemorated its 70th anniversary in 2015. From September 25th to 27th of that year, a UN summit meeting discussed and prepared sustainable development goals for 2030 (2030 SDGs). They did this by building on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They have set 17 sustainable goals for the 15-year period from 2016 to 2030, one of which is 'to end poverty in all its forms everywhere'.

Since China’s reform and opening up, over 700 million rural residents there have successfully moved out of poverty. More people have stepped up out of poverty in China than anywhere else in the world, drawing the world’s attention to the way China has developed and achieved its goals of poverty alleviation. Nevertheless, the process of poverty alleviation often starts out easily enough but becomes more difficult later on. Society needs to work together for a very long time to overcome poverty. The Chinese government proposed “Targeted Approaches to Poverty Alleviation”, drawing on successful poverty alleviation efforts in the past. The government wants resources to be focused on poor villages and poverty stricken households though building up infrastructure, construction of new housing and establishing locally distinct industries. In this way, the challenge of covering that difficult ‘last kilometer’ of poverty eradication can be overcome.

Government support for poverty alleviation

In March this year, at the opening meeting of the fourth session of the twelfth National People’s Congress, in his ‘2016 Government Work Report’, Premier Li Keqiang proposed that the Central Treasury increase poverty alleviation resources by 43.4%. He declared that the government would complete the work of lifting over ten million rural residents out of poverty, amongst whom are over two million who need to be relocated from impoverished areas, and that they would also continue rebuilding dilapidated housing in poor rural areas. They will keep working on policies which focus on reducing poverty, for the sake of both people and the land. Every government policy which benefits people and their livelihood will positively affect impoverished areas. They will give more support to areas which have been identified as impoverished and will encourage the east and the west of China to work together. Support will be given to strengthen society as it participates in efforts to eradicate poverty.

Religious organizations and institutions cooperate and conduct joint assessment

The research team in Lailou village, Sandu County, gain

an understanding of what life is like for villagers

The State Administration for Religious Affairs also called a meeting specifically about poverty alleviation work. They called on religions to work actively towards poverty alleviation, and to throw all their energy into participating in China’s effort to shake off the last of its poverty. As a charitable organization which was established 31 years ago and has many years of experience in poverty alleviation, and with an objective view of current needs in society, from March 2016, Amity Foundation is sending out many workers and teams to impoverished places in the central and western China such as Yunnan, Guizhou, Hebei and Anhui. They will investigate what is happening with issues like poverty alleviation in rural areas, raising orphans, safe drinking water and education in the countryside. They do this to design more suitable projects and to develop targeted poverty alleviation work, based on what has already been done in this area. Organizations working together in this investigation include the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the Jiangsu Provincial Administration for Religious Affairs, the Jiangsu Religious Charity Training Centre, Amity Foundation and the Changzhou Baolin Buddhist Charity. Surveys were carried out in Sandu county in Guizhou in late March to prepare for targeted poverty alleviation projects at a later date.

An impoverished area in Sandu County faces a structural problem

Team members launch the assessment in villages

Members of the investigating team began their survey in areas around Lailou Village in Sandu County. They went into homes to carry out the survey, where face-to-face discussions were held among those doing the investigation, villagers and local cadres. In this way, they were able to truly grasp what was going on with regard to development and with the villagers’ daily lives. From what we understand, this area is remote and so communication and local conditions are quite poor; there is little investment in developing industry, financial resources are poor; the population is small and human resources inadequate; the range of crops and livestock is narrow, technology is backward and the villagers do not work together much. Overall, the area is not well developed and help is urgently needed.

Members of the investigating team, Lailou villagers and local cadres having a discussion

After this, the survey team went to the welfare home for elderly and orphans in Sandu county. They wanted to understand the situation concerning orphans in this county. Through discussions with leaders from the county civil administration bureau, they learned that there are over 300 orphans in the county (children whose mother and father had both died), and of these, about 60 live in the welfare home. These 60 children are dependent upon the government for everything, including their education and daily living needs. Because of limited resources, the more than 200 orphans are cared for by relatives. In addition, there are many other orphans who do not receive the help they need. The survey group also learned about how the elderly are cared for in the welfare home. Amity Foundation and other organizations will work on poverty alleviation and development planning together with Sandu county. They will draw up the next steps of targeted poverty alleviation based on what they have learned through this investigation, and will also incorporate elements from other relevant government departments into their plans.

Amity's 31 years history of poverty alleviation in China

Amity researchers travel to a primary school to review educational development programmes which are designed to alleviate poverty

Amity Foundation has 31 years of history and experience as a non-government organization working in poverty alleviation. In 1993, Amity proposed that the western part of China should be the focus for poverty alleviation and development, after which they moved most of their work to the west. In April of the following year, the first integrated rural development project was launched in Puding county, in Guizhou, To this day, Amity has continued to develop poverty alleviation and development programmes in rural areas of western China, gaining much valuable experience. In October 2006, Amity was awarded the ‘China Poverty Eradication’ award in the ‘organizational’ category. Amity has made great contributions to rural community development, environment protection, public health, AIDS prevention, providing financial aid to students, caring for orphans and also in other areas of society. In over ten provinces and regions of China’s central and western areas, Amity has developed over 100 large-scale rural integrated poverty alleviation and development projects, each running for three to five years. Amity has helped rural communities to establish over 200 different types of locally run groups for local residents; helped establish several hundred village clinics in impoverished areas; assisted nine provinces in training over 16,000 village doctors and over 6,900 village level health workers; provided subsidies enabling over 120,000 primary and secondary students to go back to school; there was the ‘Pass the Torch’ project which enabled almost 900 impoverished university students to complete their studies; building projects for schools in mountainous areas meant that over 700 rural elementary and secondary schools could be rebuilt; 13,000 orphans were financially supported for their education; and programmes for the psychological care of orphans were developed.

Amity Foundation is a Chinese non-government organization with a deeply international background. From the beginning, Amity has devoted itself to bringing in international funding as well as advanced technology and theories. This is used to promote the development of China’s own local charitable institutions. Through experience gained from many years of hard work, Amity has worked out systems to ensure the credibility and transparency of the organization in areas such as project management and finances, as well as extensive practices for poverty alleviation projects in central and western parts of China. Examples include the development of ‘three groups of participants’ which refers to participation of local people, experts and the local government; the ‘twin highs’ referring to a high degree of efficiency and a high degree of effectiveness; the ‘three effectiveness’ refer to society, the economy and ecology all carrying equal weight when it comes to goals; and the ‘three ming principles, referring to transparency, wisdom and virtue. In this way, more people understand what Chinese non-government work involves and gain confidence in local NGOs. Through hard-earned experience of many years, as well as offering support including training local community groups and carrying out research, Amity has worked hard and give impetus to Chinese poverty alleviation work as well as providing other services which benefit society.