Designation of Poor Villages

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With the decrease in the rural poor, it was judged that the county was

no longer the appropriate targeting unit. The government issued a new

Poverty Reduction Compendium for the next 10 years in 2001, in which

village targeting was proposed, although, as we have seen, key poverty

reduction counties were still designated and the counties would still exercise

overall administration of poverty reduction funds targeted at villages. With

the fi nancial and technical help of the Asian Development Bank and the

United Nations Development Program, LGPR developed a methodology

and indicators for identifying poor villages. Now it is a requirement that

most poverty reduction funds go to poor villages. Non-poor villages in key

poverty reduction counties are no longer eligible for poverty funds, while

poor villages in non-key poverty reduction counties qualify for such funds.

County governments must take the responsibility to identify poor villages

within an overall quota for each county set by the provincial government.

A weighted poverty index is used for village ranking. The index is generated

from the score of eight indicators, namely: livelihood indicators (grain

production per person-year, cash income per person-year, and percentage

of bad quality houses); infrastructure indicators (percentage of households

having diffi culty in accessing potable water, percentage of villages with

access to reliable electricity supply, percentage of villages with an all-weather

road access to the county town); and human resource indicators (percentage

of women with long-term health problems, percentage of eligible children

not attending school). Except for the fi rst two indicators that are continuous,

the rest are proportions and are relatively easy to collect. For cross-village

comparison the same indicators are required for all villages. In practice,

LGPR has allowed local governments to change some of the indicators

and their weights according to the local situation. This decision has made

the identifi cation process more fl exible, but at the same time makes it more

diffi cult to compare poverty between counties and provinces. In practice, in

some instances, the weights on the different indicators have been assigned by

groups of villagers in a few sample villages in each county using participatory

approaches. This means that villages in different counties will have different

weights for the same indicators.

Since the weighted index calculated from the above procedure is only

valid for village ranking within a county, county governments (that is the

LGPR at the county level) are assigned responsibility for poor village

identifi cation. Working teams have been organized to help villages select

indicators and collect relevant data. The county LGPR then calculates the

weighted index and identifi es poor villages by ranking them on their index

score, so the higher the index, the poorer the village. The county LGPR

must suggest a list of poor villages to the provincial LGPR and the latter

adjusts the number of poor villages in each county according to the total

number of poor villages the provincial government has agreed to support

within the planned time period. The list of all poor villages identifi ed in

this way must be publicized within the county for monitoring purposes.

Poverty funds allocated to villages can be used for purposes identifi ed by

the communities themselves.

Measures for Urban Poverty Reduction

Urban poverty has come to be discussed as an important policy issue

since the mid-1990s, particularly with the retrenchment in the state-owned

enterprise sector. The task of urban poverty reduction is assigned to

municipal and township governments. The central government provides

subsidies for the local governments to establish a minimum living standard

system. Criteria for selecting urban residents who are eligible for receiving

subsidies, and the amount of subsidies, are determined by municipal and

township governments. No offi cial urban poverty line based on income

or consumption has been developed for any city. Instead a set of mixed

indicators, including employment status, housing, illness and disability

have usually been used to identify the subsidy recipients. The amount of

subsidy received by each recipient differs according to their income and

living conditions. Unlike rural poverty reduction, the Ministry of Civil

Affairs is the only government organization that is assigned responsibility

for the administration of the urban minimum living standard system. City

and county bureaus of the Ministry are the implementation agencies of the

system, and they rely on urban residents’ committees at the community level

to provide the necessary information to identify benefi ciaries.

By the end of September 2003, 21.8 million urban residents in 8.9 million

households were deemed eligible to receive subsidies, and a monthly subsidy

of 56 yuan was distributed to each recipient on average. (The exchange

rate at the time was approximately 8 yuan to the US dollar.) However, the

minimum living standard and average subsidies provided differ between

cities and provinces, usually determined in line with their fi nancial strength

and the coverage of the program (see Table 4.5).

Table 4.5 Urban minimum living standard program (2003)

Province/city Recipients Households Monthly

(1000) (1000) subsidy (yuan)

Total 21 800 8950 56

North

Beijing 155 69 230

Tianjing 249 103 71

Hebei 745 299 38

Henan 1241 534 44

Shandong 740 272 51

Table 4.5 (continued)

Province/city Recipients Households Monthly

(1000) (1000) subsidy (yuan)

Northeast

Liaoning 1531 573 59

Jilin 1467 578 53

Heilongjiang 1570 619 46

Northwest

Inner Mongolia 701 291 45

Shanxi 752 327 45

Shaanxi 784 271 63

Ningxia 152 57 73

Gansu 568 232 48

Qinghai 194 75 70

Xinjiang 795 315 60

Yangtze River

Shanghai 447 206 139

Zhejiang 76 39 117

Jiangsu 324 135 81

Anhui 1048 429 47

Jiangxi 1013 383 56

Hubei 1615 644 50

Hunan 1441 600 42

South

Fujian 191 76 54

Guangdong 345 126 74

Hainan 84 35 49

Southwest

Guangxi 516 213 46

Sichuan 1394 647 51

Chongqing 704 343 74

Guizhou 412 180 51

Yunnan 622 317 60

Tibet 38 12 70

Source: Ministry of Civil Affairs (2003).