UNDP, China Launches New Anti-Poverty Project

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Tuesday promoted a new project to reduce poverty in China using information and communication technologies, in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology.

"I am very pleased to launch this pioneering initiative for poverty reduction in China through establishing community telecenters in poor rural areas," said Kerstin Leitner, UNDP Resident Representative, adding that there is increasing concern worldwide about the growing digital divide between developed and underdeveloped regions."

The three-year project is initiated with US$2.5 million, of which US$1.85 million comes from the Chinese Government and US$650,000 is invested by UNDP.

With this project, farmers in poor rural areas will have a wider access to Internet and other information technologies so that they can improve their living conditions with updated knowledge and technologies, said Li Xueyong, vice Minister of Science and Technology.

And the government expects that a viable anti-poverty method with information technologies will be discovered, Li added.

The project will develop information and communication centers in five pilot poor counties in north China's Henan and Hebei provinces, south China's Anhui Province, northwest's Shaanxi Province and southwest's Chongqing Municipality, which represent different geographical and socio-economic conditions.

Those telecenters, linked to experts and related websites, will form a network for poverty alleviation that are run by volunteers at home and abroad.

The project will build on the existing information and communication facilities and community-level communication networks so that it will reach most households, said a related official.

"For example, existing computer facilities in some rural middle schools will serve as links bridging Internet with their households and students can serve as voluntary information conveyers from Internet to home," he said.

(Xinhua 02/20/2001)

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