Sichuan, China - In 2016 over 2.72 million people were lifted above the poverty line in mainly rural communities and authorities of Sichuan Province say they are determine to end poverty by 2020.
This province in the southwest of the People’s Republic of China is applying systematic thinking and approach to alleviate mankind’s worst scourge.
Like their respective history of imperialism or colonialism, China and African countries share a common challenge of alleviating poverty but it is the Asian nation, with a population over 1.3 billion, doing more to lift its citizens above the poverty line.
For Africa, the world’s second most populated continent with over 1.2 billion people, struggles to deal with a wide range of issues including poverty - about 40% of its population is consider poor, according to the United Nations.
The UN says a person is poor when his/her income is below US$1.25. Critics say mismanagement of its resources and political instability are factors impeding efforts to reduce poverty in Africa.
China, the world’s largest developing country and Africa’s major trade and development partner, is confident of sharing its experience of alleviating poverty.
Chinese government says a total of 55.64 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty between 2013 and 2016, and it anticipates lifting about 10 million more in 2017 which will put the total number of people put above the poverty line over 65 million in five years. Beijing’s policy appears to be effectively decentralized and provinces are making gains.
For example, Sichuan Province located in the Southwest is reducing its poverty gap by using the “six precise methods” proffered by President Xi Jinping.
Out of 180 counties in the province, 88 are experiencing rigorous transformation with medical, education and infrastructural projects directed toward poor communities, according to officials at the province poverty alleviation and immigration bureau.
“[We] identified the poor person, analyzed why he/she is poor and then have a precise plan for the person,” said Zhang Haipeg, the bureau deputy inspector.
“Then we assigned specific person or institution to help that person and consider other alternatives to help the person rather than giving the person money.”
Sending a message of advice to African countries during a press conference with journalists in the provincial capital, Chengdu City, Mr. Heipeg said “getting the precise impact of the intervention to know if it’s yielding results” is fundamental to tackling poverty.
With a population of over 81 million, Sichuan has successfully lifted 7.5 million people above the poverty line since 2012.
Last year, it reduced poverty by 4.3% (that’s about 2.78 million people) and with the poverty line now at US$1.92 per day by Chinese standard from the previous US$1.25 set by the United Nations, the province says it will end poverty by 2020. China defines poverty as “having an annual net income per capita of 2,300 yuan (about US$334)”.
Sichuan’s anti-poverty drive is fuelled from two fronts: support from the country’s central government and its own growth in GDP, which in 2016 was 3.26 trillion yuan (about US$478.6 billion).
The central government in Beijing has increased support to Sichuan by 81% as more infrastructure projects in rural counties takes off. Roads connecting villages have been extended to over 50,000km while 5.2 billion yuan (US$76.3 million) has been invested in upgrading power and broadband internet to rural counties.
Road and bridge construction projects are underway in rural communities to connect with big cities, help boost trade and provide job opportunities to lift people out of poverty
Mr. Haipeg said in 2013 when the province started collecting data of poor people, 6.25 million were below the poverty line and now after more than three years the number has dropped to 2.72 million.
“We believe for each household if one person is capable of working, the family has the possibility of getting out of poverty,” he said, adding that subsidy provided for poor family in a five year comprehensive plan with free medical care and education are consider the most important aspects that must be available for poor communities in order to end poverty.
For the medical scheme for poor communities, an individual needing surgery pays only 10% of the total cost, the official said.
In poor communities, there are long, medium and short term free technical skill training programs which saw 3.33 million people trained in 2016 and over 840,000 subsequently employed. At the same time, each county within the province is supported to develop its own plan for business investment, skills enhancement and creating of job opportunities.
Sichuan Province’s progress in tackling poverty highlights China’s experience in human and social development as the country continues to enjoy global economic growth.
On Friday, June 3 China launched its 2017 online Global Poverty Reduction Online Knowledge Sharing Database which the government says will afford the public free access to a wealth of information regarding country’s practices and experiences in tackling poverty and perhaps, Africa will take a page from China’s poverty alleviation book.