Yale World Fellow: Government-NGO Partnerships are Key to Fighting Poverty in China

Collaborative partnerships between the government and NGOs offer the best means of addressing China’s poverty problem, according to the Yale World Fellow who helped lead one such pioneering effort.

“There are still not many partnership efforts at the moment, but the door is opening, and I'm hopeful there will be a lot more in the near future,” Wang Xingzui, vice president of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, told an audience at the Yale School of Management on October 8.

Wang is part of an interdisciplinary group of mid-career leaders from around the world participating in the Yale World Fellows program. Fellows come to Yale for a semester of coursework and leadership training and to share their experiences with Yale students.

One of the advantages of the NGOs is that they work in the communities in need, so they can provide tailor-made services and solutions.

In a talk sponsored by the Greater China Club, Xingzui discussed China’s recent efforts to battle poverty. It’s a daunting problem, he said. As of 2012, 100 million people were classified as the “rural poor,” living on the equivalent of $1 a day in rural regions, while another 21.5 million qualified as “urban poor,” existing on $1.70 a day in cities, Xingzui said. His foundation, one of China’s leading NGOs, serves 1.5 million impoverished people annually.

In the late 1980s, the Chinese national government launched a campaign to eradicate poverty. The effort has included the creation of governmental agencies charged with poverty alleviation and programs that direct wealthier regions to share resources with poverty-stricken counterparts, as well as job-training, medical facility, and education projects.

But partnerships between government agencies and NGOs were practically nonexistent until 2006, when Xingzui’s foundation joined forces with the National Poverty Alleviation Office to address community development in Jiangxi Province, he said.

Government-NGO partnerships are effective because they capitalize on each sector’s expertise to offer nimble, targeted poverty relief, Xingzui said. They let the government focus on planning and monitoring, while NGOs handle implementation. “One of the advantages of the NGOs is that they work in the communities in need, so they truly understand what their needs are and can provide tailor-made services and solutions,” he said.