The third and final stage of China's Starlight Project has been launched to help rural elderly people, reports the China Daily Wednesday.
About three billion RMB yuan (360 million US dollars) is expected to be raised over the next 12 months.
Yang Yanyin, Chinese vice-minister of civil affairs, told a conference in Beijing Tuesday that decision-makers need to be alerted to the related vulnerability of the rural elderly, who have limited social support compared to the urban elderly.
The three-year Starlight Project, launched in June 2001, is expected to involve an overall investment of over 10 billion RMB yuan (1.2 billion US dollars), the largest amount spent on the elderly since new China was founded in 1949.
The funds have so far come from various sources, including the Ministry of Civil Affairs, civil affairs departments at provinciallevel as well as the general public.
The project is designed to build more than 30,000 homes and activity centers for the elderly and establish a community servicesystem that would cover homes with special facilities for the elderly in cities.
By late April, the second stage of the project had helped more than 13,800 homes and activity centers for the elderly in some 400medium-sized cities across the country, mainly through financial support.
(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2003)