The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help the People's Republic of China (PRC) tap the potential of civil society to bolster state-led poverty reduction efforts, through a technical assistance grant of $400,000.
The grant will help the government formulate and implement pilot projects and mechanisms for civil society participation in national poverty reduction programs as well as innovate grassroots-level poverty programs.
“The PRC government increasingly recognizes the role civil society can play as a partner in poverty reduction and related areas,” said Lei Zhang, Director General of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP), Department of International Cooperation and Social Mobilization.
The new project will explore ways to unleash the largely-untapped potential of civil society — including nongovernment organizations (NGOs), corporate social responsibility (CSR) groups, and individual volunteers — within state-supported anti-poverty work.
“The tremendous outpouring of civil society response to the 12 May 2008 Wenchuan, Sichuan earthquake gave a glimpse of that potential,” said Christopher Spohr, an ADB Social Sector Economist. “I see the linkage of state and civil society efforts — two hands pulling together — as the next chapter in the PRC’s global success story in tackling poverty.”
The general lack of a supportive institutional environment and clear guidelines has constrained the extent and efficacy of civil society’s role in poverty reduction to date. Contributions in poverty-related areas by NGOs, CSR groups, and individual volunteers have tended to be smaller than in many of PRC’s neighboring countries. Furthermore, civil society efforts are generally not coordinated with state programs.
The technical assistance directly builds on ADB’s support to LGOP, the Ministry of Finance, and their counterparts in Jiangxi province to explore ways to mainstream NGOs’ participation within the government’s flagship grassroots poverty program: village poverty alleviation and development planning.
The cooperation led to the first systematic channeling of PRC’s budgetary poverty funds through competitively-selected NGOs, which facilitated the planning process working closely with local governments.
Working further with government partners and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, a leading national NGO, the new ADB assistance will support a “second generation” pilot test in Jiangxi province.
The new pilot project will test new mechanisms – including the creation of an open charitable fund – to mobilize financial and human resources from civil society more broadly, to further enhance the impact of self-development capacities and sustainable poverty reduction programs in the villages.
“We hope that an array of NGOs, CSR, and volunteer service organizations will lend their energies to developing and launching this new multi-stakeholder platform,” Mr. Spohr said.
The project is part of ADB’s continuing work with the PRC to explore new models of civil society-government partnerships to promote poverty reduction and help achieve the broader national goals of people-centered development towards a harmonious society.
Total cost of the project is about $1.3 million, of which the Government will finance about $800,000 equivalent, and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation will contribute $100,000 equivalent. The LGOP is the executing agency.