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Hands-on efforts target poverty relief

By Zhu Lixin in Fuyang, Anhui | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-06 07:11

Hands-on efforts target poverty relief

Han Chao (right), an official from Lyuzhai township in Linquan county, Anhui province, visits a poverty stricken resident in the village he administrates. Zhu Lixin / China Daily

Township official's desire to help the poor uncovered need for greater authenticity of statistics

Editor's note: In the run-up to the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress, China Daily sent six reporters to villages nationwide to live for a month and take a look at how people are working under China's poverty eradication plan.

On May 8, at a regular Monday morning meeting of township officials and village cadres to discuss poverty relief efforts in Lyuzhai, one of the most undeveloped townships in Anhui province's poverty-stricken Linquan county, it was announced that one official had been taking the law into her own hands.

The authorities said an investigation had found that a female official from the township government had failed to list one particular household in Gaoyan village for poverty relief programs because of a personal conflict she had with the family.

Township governments are the lowest level of government in China's political system, with officials often being local residents who have personal relationships with villagers.

In addition to their daily work for the township government, each official is responsible for the administration of one of the 11 local villages.

Though village affairs often depend on the village cadres, a township official who is responsible for a village often plays a key role, according to Han Chao, deputy Party chief of Lyuzhai.

Punishment for the official found to have abused her position included criticism in front of the nearly 100 attendees of the meeting, while her rule violation will remain on her record for a year, preventing her from gaining promotion or rewards during that period.

"The poverty relief process for a household may last for years, but it is strictly required that all poverty stricken households are listed for the campaign, as part of China's drive to eliminate poverty by 2020," said Han, who is responsible for the administration of Chenxiaozhai village.

He said one problem he has encountered is villagers who are not poor seeking to be recognized as poverty stricken households to take advantage of subsidies and favorable policies.

Han became Lyuzhai's deputy Party chief and responsible for Chenxiaozhai in November 2014, when cadres reported that the village had 215 poverty stricken households, or 903 poor villagers.

"I doubted the accuracy of the figures," said Han, who spent the first months after his appointment paying door-to-door visits to the households that claimed to be poor, finding that some of them were not in poverty.

A household often includes several family members, although a single adult can also be classed as a household in some cases, according to the household registration system, or hukou.

"Family members may not necessarily live together," Han said. "Some younger family members are married and living independently from their elderly parents, without having updated their household registration records."

In such cases, the young, married family members should be excluded from poverty relief measures.

"Elderly parents may live in poor conditions and lack a source of income, while their married children live wealthier lives elsewhere," Han said.

In the two years after Han began investigating, authorities from Linquan conducted a campaign to check the authenticity of poverty relief statistics.

"As a result, 157 households, or 668 people, were deleted from the list, while 101 new households, or 264 people, were added," Han said.

Last year, 90 households were lifted out of poverty, but the village still has 68 poverty stricken families.


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