Third-party evaluations of poverty relief efforts

China Daily, January 14, 2017
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According to media reports, the Poverty Alleviation Office in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region has commissioned an inspection team from the Ningxia Bureau of Statistics to carry out third-party poverty assessments. Six inspection teams will be established to conduct on-the-spot visits to 5,040 households in 20 cities, counties and districts to assess the poverty situation in these areas.

China's poverty alleviation efforts are at a crucial stage. However, there is a problem that needs to be solved. Namely, what county that has just emerged from poverty wants to no longer be designated as an impoverished county if it means losing the right to some preferential policies? Yet removing a county from the list of impoverished counties in accordance with a reasonable assessment mechanism would enable the poverty alleviation funds and other resources that were going to that county to be directed elsewhere.

In April, the General Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guidance on the assessment of impoverished regions, which indicated that counties that exit the impoverished county list will still enjoy some favorable policies, and those which get rid of poverty in advance will be rewarded.

The policy aims to encourage the local governments in impoverished areas to make more poverty alleviation efforts. But the authorities should also be aware that some local officials may employ trickery during the process of poverty relief evaluation for their own benefit. That's why independent third-party evaluations of the effects of poverty alleviation efforts are necessary.