UN-backed project to assist thousands in northern China’s countryside

12 February 2008 – About 125,000 households in China’s Inner Mongolia region stand to benefit from better access to financial services, markets, technology and information under a new programme backed by the United Nations agency tasked with trying to reduce rural poverty.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced today that the $70.9 million programme will target households – particularly those headed solely by women – with per capita incomes of less than $1 a day and limited access to financial services such as microcredit and savings schemes.

The six-year project will promote greenhouse and organic crop production with links to markets and buyers, and it will also establish village development funds to pay for infrastructure and activities selected by local communities.

IFAD said it expects that the project could benefit households in more than 720 villages across nine counties of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which has not experienced the same economic growth as other parts of the country in recent years.

Thomas Rath, IFAD’s country programme manager for China, said the programme aims to tap into the skills and abilities of the local people.

“So far, Government and donor-funded programmes have used the same poverty reduction strategies in different locations,” he said. “Sometimes this has led to reduced results. This suggests that we needed to try new approaches. We need to target with specific approaches tailored to the local needs of people and their institutions.”

The programme will be funded in part by a $30 million loan from IFAD, as well as loans from the Chinese Government ($31.1 million) and the Rural Credit Cooperatives ($5.7 million). Participants in the scheme will contribute the remaining $4.1 million.

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