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Jinggangshan removed from the poverty list,September 25, 2017 Adjust font size:

Jinggangshan, a county-level city in Jiangxi Province, has recently undergone a poverty assessment carried out by the School of Public Administration of Nanchang University. According to Tu Junwei, Deputy Director of the Jiangxi Poverty Alleviation and Resettlement Office, the decision on whether a county should be removed from the list of impoverished counties depends on its poverty-headcount ratio, and there are strict regulations for the exiting process.

Tu says: “A county can be removed from the list only when its poverty-headcount ratio falls below 2% and when it passes the inspection of the leading group on poverty alleviation at both municipal and provincial level. If there is no objection to the inspection result, the provincial leading group on poverty alleviation will report to the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development, which will have a third party conduct a special assessment before removing it from the list.”


The Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, a third party assessment agency, organizes universities and research institutes nationwide to carry out specific assessment work.

Liu Jiansheng, director of the assessment team and associate professor of Nanchang University, said that when his school was told to undertake assessment tasks, a team consisting of 70 faculty staff and student was set up. 

They submitted a report to the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development on February 20th after more than one month of investigation. Based on the result, the Leading Group said in its feedback to Jinggangshan: 2,076 or 45% of the poverty-stricken households in Jinggangshan were covered in the survey. Ten of them, with a total of 28 people, have been mistakenly removed from the poverty list, leading to an error rate of 0.41%; three people from one household were missed out, leading to an omission rate of 0.45%; public recognition rate of the sampling reached 99.08% while the poverty-headcount ratio was calculated at 1.60%, lower than the national standard of 2%. Jinggangshan was removed from the poverty list on February 26th.

Random sampling without notification

The assessment team has drafted strict and scientific methods to ensure the accuracy of its work. 

According to Liu Jiansheng, his team relied mainly on random household surveys. “Normally we don’t notify the local authority during the survey,” he said, adding: “We use mobile navigation to find the villages, and visit relevant households while the village officials are told to stay away. We record the whole process to make sure we can review the survey if necessary.” 

 Working in pairs, they conduct a field survey and interview before filling in the questionnaires. Wei Dan, the teacher leading the Nanchang University survey group, told us the questionnaire has been carefully designed and is well-balanced, covering 54 indicators in 4 categories on poverty alleviation, which refers to basic information, income, understanding of poverty alleviation policy, and satisfaction with related work. The questionnaire also covers 31 indicators concerning removal from the poverty list, including housing. 

Some might question the practice of assigning such important tasks to university teachers and students. Chen Xin, a postgraduate student from the assessment team, said that they had been involved in many field surveys, and that the school has organized special training for this project to make sure they have fully mastered relevant issues such as poverty elimination standards and survey skills. “For example, during our survey, we often ask questions about the other households that we are going to visit and vice versa, to crosscheck the information we are collecting.”

The assessment team also crosschecks any questions where the answer is unclear, to ensure reliability of the results. “This is why we stayed for one month in Jinggangshan, because we had to collect a large number of questionnaires, and we had to spend a lot of time reviewing them”, said Yin Limin, assistant dean of the school. “The process of removal from the poverty list must stand the test of time, and so should our evaluation results”, he added. 

According to the assessment team, the poverty-headcount ratio in Jinggangshan stands at 1.6%. Although this figure is 0.52% higher than Jinggangshan’s own calculation, it remains below the poverty line of 2%. Tu Junwei told us that a margin of error of 0.52% is quite acceptable.

Strict assessment guarantees accurate poverty elimination

Local residents and officials say that the strongest impression they have of the third party assessment process is how strict it is. 

Liu Xin, Director of the Jinggangshan Poverty Alleviation and Resettlement Office, explains that the assessment team is almost insulated from local government influence with the fact that it covers all its own expenses during the survey. Although sometimes the team needs help in renting cars, it often insists on paying the rental charges.

Local officials were told only to help the team find the poor households. Zou Weinan, the Deputy Party Chief of Mucun Town of Jinggangshan, described the working scenario of the assessment team: “More than 40 team members stayed here for a whole day, investigating all 146 poor households and about 50 non-poor households. We were only responsible for showing them to the households. Once we arrived we were asked to wait outside. They stayed for about 50 minutes in each household, but we were totally in the dark as to what they talked about. ”

Some of the householders involved in the assessment maintained that the team had been very detailed in its investigation. Guan Shenghe, one of those selected for the sampling, said the assessment team stayed for about one hour in his home checking his house and other basic information, including the details of his family’s income. “They went through everything and asked me to show them my disability credentials, my bank account, and my medical care package.”

The strict process places Jinggangshan under strong pressure, but they also appreciate the work done in that way, after passing the assessment.


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