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World Bank Managing Director: China's Poverty Reduction Provides Lessons, Experience for Others

World Bank Managing Director Jeffery Goldstein said in Guangxi Thursday the achievements and experience of poverty reduction in a World Bank-sponsored development program in southwest China provides good examples for other countries.

Goldstein led a multinational delegation from March 16-18 to Du'an County in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to inspect the progress of a poverty reduction program funded with World Bank loans.

He said the field trip provided an opportunity for people from various parts of the world to share experience in the fight against poverty.

More than 40 representatives from the World Bank, eight developing and developed countries and the Chinese Government participated in the trip, which was one of a series of global activities preceding the Global Conference on Scaling up Poverty Reduction to be held in Shanghai in May.

The participants visited villages, schools, hospitals, township enterprises and road construction projects in Du'an County, one of the 35 poor southwestern counties benefiting from the Southwest China Poverty Reduction Project.

The World Bank has so far lent US$247.5 million to fund the project that involved a total investment of US$464 million. Since the launch of the project in 1995, more than 2.8 million people in Guangxi, and the provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou in southwest China have been benefited.

In Guangxi, the number of people living under the poverty line was reduced from 8 million in 1993 to 1.5 million in 2000. In Du' an county, which has been listed among the poorest counties by the central government, the number of people living under the poverty line decreased from 265,000 in 1995 to 125,000 in 2001.

Goldstein said success of the project lies not only in enormous poverty reduction through economic growth, but also in developing a multi-sectoral approach of promoting integrated progress of agricultural production, education, public health, labor mobility, environment protection and community capacity.

Wang Guoliang, deputy director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said many of the approaches and methods in the southwest China poverty reduction project have found their position in national policy and strategy.

Alan Piazza, a World Bank senior economist who has overseen the implementation of the project from the very beginning, said strong support from the Chinese Government and integration of best practice with local conditions were key reasons for the success of the project.

As part of the global learning process and the Shanghai conference, the World Bank has invited international donors and recipients to send people to participate in field trips to 70 significant international projects of poverty reduction around the world. Seven of the model projects picked by the World Bank are in China.

Besides the trip to southwest China, other trips to the eastern coast and northwestern part of China will also be organized in the run-up to the Shanghai conference on global poverty reduction.

Zou Jiayi, deputy director-general of the International Department of China's Ministry of Finance, said the field trips in China will provide an opportunity to share China's experience in poverty reduction. She said the trips will also facilitate the exchange of views between developing and developed countries and help them to take concerted efforts to advance global poverty reduction.

Since China began to carry out large-scale, systematic poverty reduction in the 1980s, the number of people living under the poverty line in the country had dropped from 250 million in 1978 to 29 million by the end of 2003. The incidence of poverty in China also dropped from 30.7 percent to 3.1 percent in the period.

International participants in the field trip to southwest China said the country had made a significant achievement by lifting more than 200 million people out of poverty in two decades.

Sun Yu, vice-chairman of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Regional People's Government, said the regional and local governments in Guangxi attach priority to eliminating poverty by setting detailed goals and tasks for the new century. He said the autonomous region will continue to introduce foreign funds, technology and expertise into the region's poverty reduction work and develop its economy.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2004)

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