亚洲开发银行技援项目第 5894 号
A D B R E T A 5 8 9 4 - P R C
Reflecting Voice of the Poor:
Participatory Poverty Assessments
in Nayong County, Guizhou Province, P. R. China
FOREIGN CAPITAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT CENTER，
STATE COUNCIL LEADING GROUP OFFICE OF POVERTY ALLEVIATION AND DEVELOPMENT，PR CHINA
CENTER FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT STUDIES，YUNNAN，CHINA
1. Project Background
2. Objectives and content of the assessments
3. Methodology: Participatory Poverty Assessment
II Result and Analysis
1. Basic information of three studied villages
2. Findings from field study
3. The main opinions from the workshop on poverty alleviation policy
III Conclusion and policy recommendation
1. Basic conclusion
2. Main policy recommendation
Table 1 Micro-credit target in 2000 in Nayong County
Table 2 Timeline of Yanshang village
Table 3 Basic information of 8 villagers group in Yanshang village
Table 4 Scoring and ranking on cause of poverty by male representatives of
Shangzhai and Xiazhai
Table 5 Scoring and ranking of causes of poverty by female group in
Shangzhai and Xiazhai
Table 6 Change of grain, cash income & livestock of Shangzhai and
Xaizhai in Yanshang since 1985
Table 7 Statistical chart of 7-15years old children in Yanshang Village
Table 8 Seasonal Calendar of Shangzhai and Xiazhai in Yanshang Village
Table 9 Scoring and ranking of grain, cash income and livestock in four
groups in Chahe Village
Table 10 Income structures of four groups in Chahe Village over years
Table 11 Enrollment information of children from 7-16 years old in Chahe
Table 12 Change in income, grain production and expenditure in Chahe
Table 13 Scoring and ranking on socio-economic condition of the villagers
Groups in Lushan Village
Table 14 Registration of children from 7-16 years old in Chahe Village
Table 15 Wealth ranking in Banbianjie Group
Table 16 Basic information of 9 villagers groups in Lushan village
Table 17 Scoring and ranking on poverty constraints in Lushan Village
Table 18 Income structure in Lushan Village
Table 19 Change of income, grain and livestock in Lushan Village from
Table 20 Expenditure structure in Lushan Village
Diagram 1 Analysis on poverty constraints of Shangzhai and Xiazhai in
Diagram 2 Department relationship Mapping in Yanshang village
The goal of this technical assistance project is to provide more effective policy framework for
Chinese government and strategic suggestion for international organizations such as Asian
Development Bank for their more efficient efforts on China’s poverty reduction. The major
contents are better understanding of what is poor and its measurement, who are the poor, what
are the key reasons related to poverty, the experiences and lessons relevant to Chinese
government’s efforts on poverty reduction, the constraints the poor are facing, etc.
The field study site for this project is Nayong County, located at North Western Guizhou
Province, Southwest China which is one of the poorest areas in P. R. China. We did
intensive studies in three administrative villages which represent the poorest villages
(Yanshang), much better village which received a lot support from governments in the past
(Chahe), and still poor village (Lushan) for this study. However all them are characterized by
poor villages in Nayong County. We spent around three (3) days for each village. The
methodology is participatory, namely participatory poverty assessment (PPA). At the village
level we practiced the following methods and tools such as village mapping, wealth ranking,
cause-effect analysis, big events, seasonal calendar, income and expenditure structure
diagram, venn diagram, scoring and ranking, and semi-structure interview, etc.
We had the following findings through more than 10 days field studies:
1) The current criteria that the Chinese government used to define and measure poverty
couldn’t reflect real pictures of the poor. On the contrary, the understanding of poverty
by the poor community masses was more clear, vivid, and easy to put into action.
2) The view of local government officials was that the group who lived under poverty line
was the poor, and the distribution of the poor was region characterized. They ignored
the differences among communities and households. From the point of view of
community masses, the poor they mentioned were mostly those individuals, households
and communities encountered difficulty or shocks.
3) From view of government officials, there were three reasons related to poverty: worse
natural conditions, low quality of poor people and lack of investment. The analysis of
community masse on causes of poverty not only related to the reality of worse natural
condition, but also to their unfortunate fate and some “external” reasons, for example
they could neither be benefited from area development project on poverty reduction nor
from new policy of poverty reduction gave to the poor households.
4) Concerning the poverty constraints, government officials emphasized more the poor
infrastructure and education, regional poverty, poor labor quality, financial difficulty and
disaster. The masses in the community emphasized steep slope, no access to road and
information, no education, no livestock, especially no farming cattle, lack of water and
electricity, poor health condition and lack of production investment like micro-credit.
5) The assessment indicated that poverty reduction must be based on community
participation. We need know that the problems and needs in details in the implementation
process, and let the community and farmers decide what to do and how to do.
6) When the poverty reduction was in its key stage technology input was much more
important in this stage, so that the change of work methods was very necessary for
relevant government agencies. The masses of community looked forward for more and
better service, especially the service of farming and animal breeding.
7) Education situation was crucial. On one hand, there are still some school age children
couldn’t attend to school. On the other hand, the education quality for the enrolled
students was poor because of teachers' availability. Many children who completed
elementary school were also difficult to satisfy the need of social economic development.
They couldn’t obtain the job opportunity other than agriculture successfully.
8) The health status in three villages was not so optimistic. In one hand, villagers couldn’t
get any treatment on time because of lack of doctors and medicine. In another hand, some
epidemic diseases like typhoid fever couldn’t be controlled effectively in these areas.
Moreover, some women couldn’t recover from contraceptive operation and had many
sequelaes because of poverty, and this influenced women’s health physically and mentally,
and their family's production and life.
By considering the above we have the following recommendations:
1) Re-registration of poor households based on the previous registration which can combine
with the community survey. The community survey based mainly on fundamental
economic situation of the community, main problems, support received in the past.
2) Change of definition on poverty from abstract and single economic indicators into specific
difficulty and directly indicators, and link the criteria with content of specific poverty
3) Identification of people who need relief from civil department and made it known to the
public for their selection by combining this work with the registration of poor households
and to formulate an effective relief measure and methods to help the marginalized
community and households.
4) Training of the staff in relevant government agencies and organization for participatory
rural development theory and working methods and to establish partnership with the
5) Design and implementation of community poverty reduction project by using participatory
approaches. In the design process, we should emphasize the open, fair and just principles.
6) Re-examining the management approaches on poverty reduction loan to make poverty
loan reach to the real poor households.
7) The central fiscal ministry should give more fiscal support and investment to poor area
and ensure the funds to be used to improve the infrastructure, education and health
condition, and extension of agriculture technology for poor regions.
8) Paying more attention to elementary education of the poor regions. The most important
thing is to formulate especially education policy for poor areas.
9) The ministry of health could design a “Health Action Plan” for the poor region to set up a
clinic in each village, and to train 1-2 bare-feet doctors for each clinic. It was better if
doctors were female. The plan should provide some instruments and simple equipment
to the village and some low interest loan for them as operation fund to buy some
10) Setting up and completing management system for poverty reduction project, especially
the social monitoring and supervision system. The content of evaluation included the
formulation of project, the range, budget, allocation of funds, using effects, etc. The unit
of monitoring could be a poor county or a specific project. The monitoring cycle could
be calculated by financial year or by project circle. The supervision result should open to
the public. Supervision telephone should be set up to supervise their behavior.
Reflecting Voice of the Poor:
Participatory Poverty Assessments
in Nayong County, Guizhou Province, P. R. China
1. Project Background
A large scale of poverty reduction in P. R. China has been made in the past more than 15 years
and got great progress with China’s reform and open-door policies. The poor population
decreased from 125 million in 1985 to 34 million in 1999. It decreased 6 million each year
in average. The incidence of rural poor population decreased from 30.7% in 1978 to 4.1% in
1999, which resulted in the decrease of poor population in China from one quarter of the
whole poor population in the world to 1/20. All these imply the great effort in poverty
reduction made by Chinese government, other relevant bilateral and/or multi-lateral
governments and international organizations in the world. Especially in the end of the
1980’s, the poverty reduction approaches changed from almsgiving to development. The
Chinese government carried out so-called "The Eight-Seven National Poverty Reduction
Plan". The poverty reduction campaign made significant achievement dominated by
regional poverty reduction. However, we are still facing a series of challenges:
At the first place, the indicators that Chinese government used to measure and identify poor
population are based on the average net income and grain consumption. These indicators are
not enough for measuring the food-and-clothing problem of poor population because poverty
does not only mean there is no money, no food. In addition, the calculation unit is county
and some provinces are township. This situation neglects the fact that there are rich
townships in poor county and there are villages in poor townships. Moreover, the
development differences were significant among rural households in poor village. Under
this situation, we could not identify the poorest as the target group for most poverty reduction
efforts so that we could not touch “the real poor” if we measure poverty based on county and
township levels and allocate resources related to poverty reduction.
Secondly, resource allocation system of regional development-oriented poverty reduction
approach was top-down. Local governments could only design projects and programs
according to the resource scale and using instruction made by the upper government. It was
difficult to reflect the basic and urgent needs of local poor people. The delivery of resources
was limited by the government’s plan management. It excluded the real poor village and real
poor people to most extent since they were not only the poor from the point of view of
economic development level, but also the vulnerable and marginalised group from the point
of view of socio-politic status. This implies that the approaches of resource allocation and
delivery in the past were decided by the government to a great extent. In this given situation
regions and groups may acquire support are areas with rich social capital and middle and
well-off households for most poverty reduction initiatives rather than the poor areas and
households. The poor themselves and the related government departments in poor regions
have not become the main body for poverty reduction campaign.
Thirdly, there is no efficient monitoring system in the poverty reduction process. It could
neither reflect the achievement in poverty reduction nor problems in allocation and delivery
of resources for poverty reduction process, and moreover, it made the poverty situation
Lastly although Chinese government already promised imperially to the world to solve the
dressing and eating problem for the poor population at the end of the 20th century, but there
was still a small amount of population living under the official poverty line set by the Chinese
government. Let's take Nayong County of Bijie Prefecture, Guizhou Province as an example,
the whole county still had 12 townships with 79500 extremely poor people living under the
poverty line and most of them live in remote mountain area, stone mountain area or minority
area. In these areas there are large scale of poor population with a bad production and living
conditions. It is the most difficult problem for the County government to resolve the
problem with enough food and clothes of this part of poor population (P7, Poverty Reduction
and Development Office of Nayong County, Dec. 12, 2000).
These challenges show us that we should think about the advantage and weakness of the
poverty reduction policies and approaches. Through the systematic evaluation, we may
provide much better poverty reduction policies and approaches for poverty reduction strategy
for the central and local government, and for foreign governments and international
organizations. In order to provide this kind of references Asian Development Bank (ADB)
and the Foreign Capital Project Management Center, State Council Leading Group Office of
Poverty reduction and Development of China implemented a technical assistance project
supported by ADB titled in Participatory Poverty Assessment: Reflecting Voice of the Poor.
2. Objectives and content of the assessments
The general goal of this assessment is: to understand the characteristics of China’s poverty
and poverty constraints by listening to the rural masses on their understanding and thought on
relevant poverty problems. Through this assessment, the following objectives can be reached.
∗ Clearer understanding on what is poverty, the definition of poverty and why they are
∗ Understanding poverty constraints that the poor themselves are facing in getting rid of
poverty and experiences and lessons of the previous projects and programs;
∗ Reflecting views of the poor to relevant organizations, especially institutions related to
poverty reduction affairs.
Based on the above goal and objectives, the main contents of this assessment are:
∗ Identify rural households in different living levels in several communities by using
participatory poverty assessment methodology. And based on this, to discuss with them
how to define poverty, which households were poor, the causes of poverty, and the
characteristics of poverty;
∗ Understand different ways and justice of different groups in obtaining and utilizing
relevant resources in the community. Summarize the impacts of past projects on
different households in the community and experiences and lessons we could draw
from these projects according to the implementation policy of the government’s
poverty reduction projects;
∗ Analyze the poverty constraints that the poor community and the households are facing
in getting rid of poverty and the basic needs of the poor in trying to overcome the
constraints based on the poverty situation and causes.
∗ Collect perceptions of the community to the effort that the government done in poverty
reduction, and their expectation to the government and other organizations in reducing
poverty and improving the production and living condition in rural community.
∗ Learn ideas from different groups including the poor, the rich, village leaders, men,
women, elders and young people in the community. Analyze and compare different
views from different groups and relevant government departments.
3. Methodology: Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA)
As a methodology, Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) was a criticism to traditional
methods on their subjective to poverty measurement and assessment. It was created and
developed to adapt the participatory approach to the social development and human progress
trends. In early 1993, World Bank introduced PPA to assess the poverty problem and poverty
reduction projects supported by some developed counties. The Center for Community
Development Studies did one month’s PPA in three western provinces in China (Guangxi,
Yunnan and Ningxia) supported by DFID and World Bank in May and June. This is the first
time to use PPA in China. The PPA for this time emphasized the following methods and tools
by learning experiences and methods from last PPA activity and taking them as reference. See
papers titled in "Voice from the Poor: Report of PPA in Western China and Adjustment of
Poverty Reduction Strategy" in Chinese, and "Understanding Rural Poverty and Poverty
Constraints in China: an analysis of the causes of poverty and poverty constraints in poor
rural areas of China, the impact and effectiveness of poverty alleviation projects" in English.
First, by using scoring and ranking to decide the investigation village. Based on the
differences of rural administration system between Guizhou and other provinces (In Guizhou,
it is administration area under township and village committee under administration area.
There are several villagers groups under one village committee. Sometimes one villagers
group is one natural village, sometimes one villagers group includes several natural villages,
or a natural village is divided into several villagers groups). The related department of the
county arranged us to visit several village committees. We first went to the village committee
and asked the village leaders to do scoring and ranking to decide the investigation villagers
group or natural village according to the natural condition, grain production, livestock
production and living standard. Finally we selected a poorer village or a villagers group
even it was not the poorest one for each village committee. We also considered the poverty
level and feature，social and cultural factors, especially the representativeness of minority
groups, different area in the county, and other factors.
Second, community mapping. In order to understand the community’s environment,
resource conditions, number of people, labor and special circumstance of household such as
labor mobility, disabled and, participation in project and state of house, we invited village
leaders and/or the elders draw a map of their village as a basis to elicit the above basic
information, by community mapping, we would learn the basic economic and social condition
and their differences in the community. It also provided us some information for selecting
households and key informants would be interviewed and doing the wealth ranking.
Third, wealth ranking. We knew the socio-economic differences among the households by
doing wealth ranking. Some farmers who knew the village very well were asked to list the
well-off households and poor households by proportion. The real number was decided by
village size and number of households. The numbers of well-off households and poor
households were almost the same usually. Based on this, some simple calculation was done
for the listed households, then we could get a households list that reflects the differences in
living level among households. The household list was also a basis to decide the household
interviewing. After wealth ranking, we discussed the criteria of wealth ranking with them and
understood why some households were rich and some were poor in general. Usually we
would further discuss with them the households we needed to know in detail such as why
some households’ houses were bad but they were not treated as poor households, some
households had many labors and animals but they were treated as poor households.
Fourth, cause and effect analysis of poverty. We used cause and effect analysis to dig out the
main causes related to poverty. In doing this we took poverty as a basic result and asked all
participants to list the relevant causes, and then to analyze the causes in detail, finally to do
scoring and ranking for different causes and know the most importan