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NGOs will get State funds to help poor
By Sun Xiaohua and Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-20 06:18

China's non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will, for the first time, get State funds directly for helping the poor.

The nation's top poverty relief office and its Jiangxi branch will allocate 11 million yuan (US$1.36 million) to NGOs for projects in 22 poverty-stricken villages.

Wu Zhong, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, yesterday announced the path-breaking initiative for the East China province.

The NGOs will be selected by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA); and if overseas NGOs intend to participate, they have to tie up with domestic counterparts, Wu told a news briefing.

He added that if the Jiangxi project is successful, it would be extended to the rest of the country.

"It is a brand new mode of co-operation between the government and NGOs," said Dai Ying, deputy secretary-general of the Youth Development Foundation in Jiangxi. "My organization is very interested in participating in the project."

"If we manage to get funds from the government, we'll find an effective way to help local farmers," she said.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing US$1 million for the project, which aims to formulate replicable models and mechanisms for NGO participation in government-funded village-level poverty alleviation efforts.

It will also design an assessment system to appraise NGOs' performance. "Previously, the government would design a project, implement it and then assess the results," said Chris A. Spohr, programme manager at the ADB Resident Mission in China.

"Under this project, the government's role will be transformed into a policy supporter, which will make poverty alleviation more effective."

China has 26.1 million people in absolute poverty and about 50 million population with low income.

There are 212 million people in rural areas living on US$1 or less a day each, said Li Xiaoyun, professor at China Agricultural University.

"The current system of poverty alleviation has many shortcomings," he said. "Funds from the government are delayed at different levels of administrations and sometimes do not even reach the needy."

"The new co-operation between the government and NGOs will lead to a win-win result," said Kang Xiaoguang, professor at Renmin University of China.

"Funds can reach the poor without delay and the government can achieve its aim of poverty reduction. And NGOs will have more funds to survive."

He Daofeng, deputy secretary- general of CFPA, added: "It can also help domestic NGOs improve their management and performance."

In another development, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions will strengthen its annual charity campaign to help the nation's 22 million urban residents who subsist on the government's minimum living allowance.

The federation will try and find jobs for laid-off workers, provide occupational training to migrants and help retirees with medical insurance.

"Each family has a different story and we aim to solve their problems practically," said Dong Li, a senior federation official.

"So our charity campaign will not focus only on donations of clothes and cash."

The federation has earmarked about 40 million yuan (US$5 million) to be given out from New Year's Day to the lunar New Year, which falls on January 29.

(China Daily 12/20/2005 page1)

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