South-South Cooperation between IFAD and China Taking Its First Step

The first event promoting the South-South Cooperation between China and IFAD supported programs in Asia and Africa kicked off in Beijing on 23rd September 2009.

18 project officers from 4 countries (Madagascar, Rwanda, Viet Nam and Bangladesh) including IFAD CPM Mr. Benoit Thierry gathered in China to undertake a one-week knowledge exchange program, which combines in-door lecturing and field exposure to China’s development and poverty reduction experiences and IFAD’s work and experiences in China. The participants gratefully acknowledged the sponsorship of the Chinese government for accommodation and ground travel.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the International Poverty Reduction Cooperation Center in China opened the seminar together with IFAD CPM for China Mr. Thomas Rath. In their opening statements the MOF and IFAD representatives both confirmed the significance of this event in promoting sharing and learning between China and other developing countries in Asia and Africa and among the IFAD projects involved. Both sides expressed desire to continue such cooperation to contribute to global poverty reduction.

During the first day sessions, the participants were informed about China’s impressive record on poverty reduction from 260 million extreme poor to 14 million over the last 30 years, the main challenges and key elements of China development model. Exchanges were made on what from China’s development experience can be replicated in developing countries.

The IFAD country team presented the achievements of joint GOC and IFAD projects (23 projects with USD 578 million loan) and discussed the new development approaches and challenges in country that is developing very rapidly. The key elements of project design and implementation triggered great interest by participants.

The first day was a good start as participants showed great interest in the seminar and concentrated in the presentations and discussions despite of long flight and jetlag… 20 some hours for the Madagascar team to reach China.

Below are some of the reflections from participants on day one:
  • “ The number of Chinese people out of poverty is impressive. The contribution of IFAD projects to that from 1981 to 2006 is 15 million people. This figure corresponds to the current number of poor people in Madagascar. This shows the real possibility of fighting against poverty when you have a good strategy, appropriate leadership associated with political stability and strong governance. But it is also the result of sustained efforts in continuity of strategic orientations and respect for discipline, good will and a real motivation of the population. The projects supported by external donors working together as part of a clearly elaborated by the State on the basis of priorities set at the lower level (provincial) leading to their successful ownership and sustainability through existing structures in place (Government and rural organizations). Therefore, projects financed by external aid are complementary to government programs.” - Madagascar team

  • ” IFAD projects in China really play their role of supporting the poorest with a refinement of targeting face to an economic and an industrial development in general. These projects have also shown good management of space by the concentration of actions and their replication. However, the exchanges between participating countries show that despite the socio - economic, geographic and level of equipment of different countries that are significantly different, the main lines of IFAD’s have similarities. This begs the question whether IFAD should recommend the same approach for conditions quite different even though we always target the poor.” - Madagascar team

  • “From the first presentation I was greatly impressed by the Chinese approach especially with regard to:
    the prioritizing of infrastructure in preparation for investment and growth;
    financing the infrastructure from among others domestic savings
    the ability to program for equitable growth that puts money in villagers' hands
    the shift from heavy industry to township and rural small scale industry
    From the presentation in IFAD programmes
    the techincal envoy model and the fact that it is stimulating private sector based service deliverry in rural areas
    attempts to introduce technology in poor households such as the differenciated grants for household infrastructure
    systematizing innovation in project planning and implementation
    These are just but a few - the whole day has been one big learning experience for me.” - King’ori Wathobio, project advisor for Rwanda