Exploring Development Realities on the Ground

– China/IFAD South-South Cooperation Seminar Field Visit
27 September

The participants came with much excitement and anticipation to Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a southern province neighboring Viet Nam, for a 2-day field visit to observe the rural development and poverty reduction realities on the ground. Participants had the chance to experience the vastness of the country, as well the geo-climatic diversities…. flying for 3.5 hours in Airbus flight and shift from Beijing at 24C to 35C of Nanning. The field visit site was deliberately selected in consideration of the climatic similarity with the countries of the participants.

The first day field visit was made to the villages funded by government poverty reduction and rural development program, the so called “new socialist countryside”. The new socialist countryside construction program was a recent endeavor by the government to support the development of rural areas, especially the poor areas, by pooling funds to build local infrastructures such as rural road, electricity and water supply project, education and health facilities etc. Meanwhile various sector departments also bring with other supports such as subsidized credit for income generating, developing crop industry etc. to completely upgrade the livelihood of the villages and set example of new socialist countryside. Coordinated efforts and financing are prerequisite for success of the new socialist countryside construction.

This development model also falls under the government strategy of concentrated poverty reduction, by targeting selected Karst areas where poverty incidence is higher in the case of Guangxi, pooling and advancing poverty reduction funds aimed for several year’s fiscal allocation to be used in a short period to get infrastructure improved, so as to create condition for other income generation opportunities to be attained.
The second day visit was made to an IFAD project county, namely LongAn, which is one of the 10 poor project counties jointly supported by IFAD, WFP and the government. Participants visited a mountain village, where terracing, water harvesting, micro-credit support for income generating activities mainly in cattle fattening were supported. Located in karst area, the village had difficulties in getting drinking water especially during the dry season, land was also very limited and it became very important to retain the limited soil among the stones in order to maintain food production. With the support of the project and active community participation, the villagers constructed water tanks both for drinking and irrigation purposes, terraced their land, constructed shelters for livestock and started microcredit project to raise cattle, life of villagers considerably improved since then.

The participants visited household biogas system, the livestock fattening facilities, the facilities of rural households and exchanged face to face with beneficiaries the process of their changes.
It was strongly felt that learning from field visit is so much persuading and impressive, in comparison with in-door sharing that usually happened through workshops and seminars.

Main learning points as I can summarize:
  • Government led poverty reduction strategy with various sector agencies participating and coordinating.
  • Infrastructure improvement for basic livelihood improvement: road, water supply, electricity, health and education facilities
  • Secure income source in sustainable manner. For example in the visited project areas, development of crops suiting the local conditions: growing bamboo, raising animals such as goats and cattle were good income sources
  • Community participation in terms of setting their priorities, implementing the construction by contributing labor and monitoring, follow up management.
  • Focusing on the inclusive targeted poor areas, with multi-sector interventions and investment coordinated

Some reflections from participants:

”With respect to the field visits

  • First, is the development of the roads infrastructure. While this had been highlighted in the first presentation in Beijing, I think for some of us from the less developed countries we could not imagine that you could be 100% connected. The highways are something else. On the rural access road, really were impressive. Take my country for instance, nobody could be living in those villages because they would simply be inaccessible!!
  • the other interventions again appear to be quite well thought out. When one sees the growth that these villages have witnessed in the last few years, it would not be a wonder for them to "catch up" with the rest of the country in about a decade or so.
  • the first village was so impressive in the level of thought that went into it: to think of a gazebo, over a water pond, where the senior citizens could relax in a cool environment .... a simple idea but with wonderful results. “
    (King’ori, Wathobio, Project Advisor for Rwanda)

“ Our main learning points are:

  • Implementation arrangements are well designed
  • Participatory evaluation is great idea
  • People’s attitude towards project implementation is very positive… cause of success
  • The WFP/IFAD joint project should be a good model for replication in developing countries. “
    (Viet Nam Team)

by Sun Yinhong
IFAD Country Presence in China


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