Six non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have won their bids to
undertake poverty relief projects. They will share 11 million yuan
(US$1.36 million) and are the first NGOs in China to receive state
funding for poverty relief, according to the China Foundation for
Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) yesterday.
The funding is for an experimental poverty alleviation program
to be conducted in
"It's a milestone event in China," Tang Min, a chief economist
with the Beijing office of the Asian Development Bank (ADB),
said at a press conference yesterday.
Tang said that this system of allowing NGOs to take on the
operational work of the program gives the government the
opportunity to act more as a supervisory body.
China earmarks more than 30 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion) every
year to help the poor, but traditionally, local governments act
independently in poverty alleviation initiatives, which means that
often the money is not used to its optimal efficiency.
According to Kang Xiaoguang, an NGO researcher with the Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS), the
poor in villages, who normally account for 10 to 20 percent of a
village population, have little chance of being elected to village
boards, and it is these village boards that decide how to use funds
given to them. As a result, they do not benefit from the funds that
were actually given to help them.
NGOs, however, can play a very different role in helping the
According to Wu Zhong, director-general of the Foreign Capital
Project Management Center of the State Council Leading
Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (CPAD), NGOs are physically closer
to people in need and know them better than the government.
According to He Daofeng, vice chairman of the CFPA, there are
about 200,000 NGOs in China. An NGO is typically able to raise
about 70,000 yuan (US$8,600) a year through donations.
"The lack of funds and manpower is to blame for the
sluggish growth of Chinese NGOs," Tang said. "But if the experiment
succeeds, this could be a brand new avenue for public welfare
organizations within which to carry out their missions."
The six NGOs selected include the US-funded Heifer Project
International, Mountain River Lake Sustainable Development
Association (MRLSD) of Jiangxi Province, Jiangxi Youth Development
Foundation, Ningxia Poverty Alleviation and Environmental
Regeneration Center, China Association for NGO Cooperation,
and Shaanxi Research Association for Women and Family.
In June, another group of NGOs will be selected for other
projects in another 16 villages in Jiangxi.
(China Daily February 22, 2006)