Poverty in Northwest ChinaNorthwest China is comprised of three provinces (Qinghai, Gansu and Shaanxi) and two autonomous regions (Xinjiang and Ningxia). The overall population of this region is about 100 million. The rates of poverty of all five of these administrative divisions rank among the top ten in mainland China. It was roughly estimated that by the end of 2016, 12 million people in this region were still living below the national poverty line of $348 in annual net income.

Major reasons for the high rate of poverty in northwest China include the harsh deserts, plateaus and mountains, dry climates and natural disasters. Many areas in this region lack resources and basic infrastructure. Many cities and counties are enduring insufficient power supply and inconvenient transportation. In addition, incomes remain low, and basic facilities for education, health and other public services are poor.

Recently, quite a few different measures have been implemented for alleviating poverty in northwest China. Officials in Xinjiang relocated about 26,100 persons living in poverty in 2016 and raised $627 million of relocation funds for poverty reduction in 2017. The government of Qinghai aims to further exploit the advantages of tourism on reducing poverty by pairing 10,000 villages with private companies within five years.

The All-China Women’s Federation offers direct assistance for poverty alleviation by training women to improve their working capabilities and handcraft skills. Projects in the Shaanxi and Ningxia regions were also proposed in China’s thirteenth five-year plan.

The poverty rate among most ethnic minorities is relatively high, which stems from factors such as attitudes toward girls’ education and dependence on government assistance. Hence, it is necessary to reinforce the importance of education and gender equality and to encourage local people to go out seeking better jobs.

An important issue is reforming the strategy of poverty alleviation, by gradually replacing the conventional aid model with the participatory anti-poverty model. Tim Harvey’s work in Ningxia emphasizes the rights of the poor to participate, respects their enthusiasm and motivations to get rid of poverty. This strategy aims to enhance their viability to survive and expand their legal rights to gain wealth.

Besides the measures mentioned above, the Chinese central government attaches great importance to the development of medical care and nutrition support in northwest regions with ethnic minorities. Meanwhile, protecting the local natural environment, reinforcing the guiding role of religious groups and implementing the strategy of sustainable development are all keynote strategies on reducing poverty in northwest China.

One typical example is the Yinchuan Minning Agriculture Project in Ningxia, from which 35,000 local villagers were benefited by relocation and opportunities for income growth.

Alleviating poverty in northwest China represents another long march at present. As a region with the highest rate of returning poverty, it requires intensive concerns on protecting the rights and opportunities for the poor. By gradually changing the methods of poverty reduction and allowing the vast majority of the poor to participate, greater achievements can be made in the long-term project.

– Xin Gao


Poverty Reduction GoalsThe European Union, or EU, is the world’s largest development aid donor with over half of all developmental aid coming from the organization’s funding. Thanks in part to the EU’s efforts to achieve global poverty reduction goals, the number of people living in poverty has fallen by 600 million since the year 1990.

However, poverty analysts feel that significant progress can still be made towards reducing the death rate of mothers during childbirth and expanding access to clean drinking water. Because of this, the EU has pledged to help support 79 impoverished nations by raising an additional €1 billion in aid.

One of the projects supported by this funding provides over 5,000 households in rural Timor-Leste access to safe drinking water. Much of the project has already been completed, and local communities in the area are thriving like never before.

Before the program was launched, only 57 percent of the population in this rural community had access to safe drinking water. Now over 26 community water systems have been implemented in the area with 5,950 people being granted clean water access. The EU program has also expanded toilet access from 35 to 65 percent in the Aileu District.

Ludivina, a 9-year-old girl from the Aileu District in rural Timor-Leste told the European Commission that because of the program, she was able to enjoy life as a child should.

“After I collected the water, I would go to school and feel tired in the classroom. But when I first heard that I didn’t have to collect water because of the water system with the pump, I was so happy! Now I have time to play with my friends, go to school and sing!” Ludivina said.

This program is just one many the EU hopes to continue with the additional funding. In the past three years, the EU has spent €56.2 billion on developmental aid.

Simon Maxwell, the chair of the European Think Tanks Group, speaks highly of the EU to The Guardian. However, he says that the EU still has room for reform on all aspects of its development and humanitarian policies.

Much of these reform ideas can and will be found in universities, research centers, think tanks, NGOs and the private sector. Therefore, engagement in the EU can not benefit only the organization, but the countries that participate in it as well.

“The more we invest in the EU, the more successful we are likely to be in our efforts to achieve the global goals. We have to believe in the power of collective action and in the possibilities the EU can offer,” says Maxwell.

There is still much work to be done according to EU supporters. But with participation and support, the EU can be an example to other countries of a framework for successfully achieving with human rights, peacebuilding and poverty reduction goals.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: Pixabay

global development
Here are 10 facts about global development you may not be aware of:

1. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day from poverty.

2. Water and sanitation problems affect more than half of the world’s population. In developing countries, 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean water, and 1.4 million children die every year from a lack of access to safe drinking water and appropriate sanitation.

3. Infectious diseases are still a significant killer in poor countries around the world. It is estimated that 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Every year, around 500 million cases of malaria are reported and 1 million end fatally. Malaria is most prevalent in Africa, where 90 percent of malaria deaths occur and 80 percent of child victims worldwide live.

4. About 28 percent of children living in developing countries are considered underweight or stunted. Due to the current situations, the Millennium Development Goals‘ target of decreasing the number of underweight children by 50 percent will be missed by 30 million children. The main regions that are struggling with malnourishment are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

5. School enrollment rates around the world continue to be low. About 115 million children of primary school age are not enrolled, and more than 226 million children do not attend secondary school.

6. Child marriage is a serious problem around the world; approximately 39,000 girls become child brides every day. Ending child marriage is likely to be a priority in the post-2015 goals.

7. Deaths of children under the age of five have decreased significantly over the past 25 years, but high rates still exist in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to data from the U.N., India alone accounts for 22 percent of all under-five aged deaths.
8. Approximately 842 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger. Hunger kills more people annually than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.

9. Numbers from 2011 indicate that more than 19 million children around the world have not been vaccinated.

10. New research has shown that at least 20 percent of aid money is never delivered to developing countries. In 2011, $100 billion was pledged as official development aid, but at least $22 billion was never transferred to those countries.

– Hannah Cleveland 

Sources: Global Issues, Impatient Optimists, USAID,, Global Issues
Photo: FungGLobalInstitute

AidData and China's Foreign Aid Policy
In the past decade, China has committed at least $75 billion to aid and development in Africa. Since 2000, there has been up to 1,700 projects, and China’s commitment to development in Africa stands as one of the strongest of any donor country. Research in the U.S. has created a large public database of these projects, named AidData, in order to analyze China’s efforts.

While this ongoing data collection could create debate over China’s interests in Africa, it is clear that Chinese engagement in the continent strengthened infrastructure, energy generation, and supply and communications. The ability to measure this aid will allow for transparency in China’s aid processes and strategies. Chinese aid is performed through direct investment “without state involvement and NGO aid” so that there is no middleman and the money can go directly where it is needed. However, this makes it more difficult to track where the money goes, and how it is used.

Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan are the biggest aid recipients, receiving a quarter of a trillion dollars over the past 10 years. As was earlier mentioned, the biggest priority for Chinese aid is infrastructure. This means that empowering women, providing food aid, and creating education systems rank much lower on the priority list. AidData has suggested that because these are areas that the West tends to focus on the most, China has taken a different route.

In spite of this reasoning, according to AidData, China has backed hundreds of health, transport, and agricultural projects. Doctors and teachers have been sent into Africa as well, while African students have been encouraged to study in China. Some insist that China is only interested in the continent for its natural resources, yet it is clear that China is interested in supporting Africa for the future.

– Sarah Rybak

Sources: The Guardian, ONE
Photo: China Daily