The impoverished population in rural areas of China's ethnic autonomous areas fell to around 19.55 million in 2009, down 1.48 million from a year earlier, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission said Tuesday.
Impoverished people accounted for about 16.4 percent of the rural population in ethnic autonomous areas, the commission said in a report.
The impoverished rural population in ethnic autonomous areas accounted for 54.3 percent of China's rural population in 2009, compared with 44.5 percent in 2006, 52.2 percent in 2007 and 52.5 percent in 2008, according to the report.
In addition, about 49.46 million people in these areas had difficulty accessing safe drinking water, the report said.
The commission said poverty relief in areas inhabited by ethnic minority groups is key for the national poverty alleviation program.
China invested 16.54 billion yuan (around 2.43 billion U.S. dollars) for poverty-relief efforts in ethnic autonomous areas last year, the report said.
The commission suggested the central government have special policies for ethnic autonomous areas when drafting the country's new poverty-relief program and 12th five-year national development plan (2011-2015), to promote economic and social development in the areas.