Why President Xi Jinping’s precision poverty alleviation strategy succeeded

In November 2013, President Xi Jinping first put forward the strategy of “precision poverty alleviation.” Ever since it was unveiled, the strategy has become a key part of China’s fight against poverty.

Precision poverty alleviation is specific, targeting every poor household and individual, instead of the regional focus of poverty-stricken areas.

The key features of this model, include accurate identification, assistance, management, and assessment of persons and areas suffering extreme poverty.

This came to the fore recently at a forum held at the Renmin University of China bringing together journalists, both local and foreign, and scholars.

Under this strategy, the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) under the guidance of President Xi, had a single objective of eradicating absolute poverty across the length and breadth of China.

The scholars disclosed that the ruling party cadres were under instructions and were clear that no matter where they live, everyone living below the set poverty line had to be unchained from the shackles of destitution, at the very least, by the end of 2020.

To ensure this was a success, the Chinese leadership first developed a criterion to eliminate extreme poverty within its borders

“A poverty line of RMB 2300 yuan in 2010 constant price was adopted, which is equal to $2.3 dollar a day in ppt terms, 20% higher than the international poverty line of 1.9 dollars a day.” Prof. Wang Sangui of China Anti-poverty research institute at the Renmin University of China disclosed.

Prof Wang, however, notes that a number of things had to be guaranteed or met if the programme was to be a success.

“No worry for food, no worry for clothes, guarantee a safe house, guarantee 9 years compulsory education, guarantee basic health care; plus having access to safe drinking water.” He said

Once these guarantees were made, the country’s leadership swiftly started identifying close to 30 million poor households with a total population of 90 million people in 2013.

Under this program, China registered all the poor households and population and details about the families, available resources, income sources, and reasons of poverty in the national poverty alleviation information system.

The identified and recorded poor households would form the basis of all types of poverty alleviation programs.

In the process, 128 thousand poor villages and 832 poor counties were identified as the main administrative units to implement the Precision Poverty Alleviation Strategy.

Once identified, accurate assistances are channeled to the poor. Promotion of income-generation activities, as well as the roll-out of subsidies for agricultural productions, is also conducted.

Prof Wang says the administration in Beijing needed to carry out Employment promotion activities. This meant, training for off-farm jobs, provision of information for job opportunities, helping with migration, and works in cities.

“Employment opportunities were created through promoting the development of labor-intensive factories in local communities and providing local job opportunities for the poor. Local governments build factory buildings for enterprises to rent,” Wang said

Thirdly, the government instituted resettlement efforts, top on the agenda being the relocation of over 10 million of the poor in remote areas, in harsh natural conditions, to comparatively more hospitable natural villages or small towns with a view to improving the environment and conditions for their development.

To ensure the success of this program, government and state-owned financial institutions mobilized resources to the tune of billions of dollars for the exercise in specific five-year plans.

In the area of education, the government developed strict measures to ensure every child of school age attends primary and middle school in poverty-stricken areas.

“The government started providing free high school or an occupational school education and living allowances for students from identified poor families. This will not only reduce the education expenditure of poor households but also help end inter-generational transmission of poverty,” Wang disclosed.

Apart from education, the government also concentrated its efforts on ensuring health services are available to all. The CPC-led administration will start subsidizing the poor for their health insurance. Wang says, in China, the medical expenses reimbursement rates of the poor are much higher than the non-poor.

Unlike in most parts of the world, there is no deposit required in order to access medical services by the poor. The poor households were also assisted through home visits and regular checks by health practitioners.

As if that is not enough, the Chinese government carried out massive infrastructure development in poverty-stricken areas. Today, these areas mostly located in the remotest parts of China have roads, electricity, drinking water, and irrigation facilities as well as the broadband network just like in much-developed cities.

But all this, according to Prof Wang, would not be possible without the direct supervision of the ruling party, CPC. He says party secretaries of all levels take the responsibility for poverty reduction.

“Party secretaries and governors of all poor counties must remain in their duty till the fulfillment of the task for poverty reduction in their counties,” He said

To strengthen community-level poverty alleviation capacity, he notes that more than 3 million officials have been sent to the poor villages.

At the same time, China practices an East-West partnership model where Eastern provinces and cities that are rich provide monetary and non-monetary assistance to the western provinces/regions (poor) in efforts aimed at alleviating poverty.

As a result of President Xi Jinping’s precision poverty alleviation strategies, poverty reduction in China accelerated in recent years and absolute poverty has been eliminated. The Chinese government says a total number of 99 million rural poor population has been lifted out of poverty between 2013 and 2020.

Prof Wang says there are lessons to learn from China especially by the developing countries in this regard.

He argues that the Chinese experience shows that absolute poverty can be eliminated. He, however, spoke of the need for strong political willingness and determination coupled with good governance to implement poverty alleviation strategies. He also says the mobilization of a large amount of all kinds of resources is important.


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