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NGOs Play Role in Poverty Relief

The participation of NGOs in village-level poverty alleviation schemes signals a change in the approach to helping the poor, says an article in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

A poverty alleviation project was recently jointly launched by the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Some domestic NGOs will be singled out by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, from which they are expected to be granted funding for their work.

This is the first time the government and non-governmental groups have co-operated to alleviate poverty.

Over the past few decades, since the nation embarked on the modernization drive, the government has undertaken a series of multi-level and multi-field poverty alleviation projects, reducing the country's poor population from 250 million to 26 million.

But the ambitious campaign has largely been carried out in the government-dominated manner.

Effectively helping free so many citizens from poverty is a massive challenge for the government.

As early as the 1980s, some foreign NGOs were participating in China's poverty alleviation project in a limited way.

But due to the effects of economic structural transformation, co-operation between the government and non-governmental groups has not become the nation's mainstream model for poverty reduction.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the success of some NGOs undertaking poverty alleviation projects made officials reassess their role in solving some of the country's most complicated problems during its system transition period.

It is a fact that with decades of development, NGOs have become a third active factor after the government and the market.

World experience also shows NGOs can play a very positive role in helping solve various kinds of social and public problems that cannot be solved by the government or market.

The move recently taken by the government demonstrates a change in its attitude towards NGOs and poverty alleviation work.

There are good reasons to expect a more scientific and modern poverty reduction model after the government and NGOs join hands.

(China Daily December 22, 2005)

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