Fighting poverty and saving the environment – Gaoming Jiang

From ChinaDialogue: Around 200 million people in China live in , but the country’s relief programme is not working, warns Gaoming Jiang. Polluters and corrupt local officials are diverting money intended to avert hardship.

“Mismanaged poverty alleviation has given rise to recurring – even worsening – economic hardship, and has caused much environmental damage in poor areas.”

There has always been controversy over the link between environmental protection and economic growth, particularly in developing countries, where the need for growth can hinder environmental efforts. Many of China’s environmental problems have their roots in poverty, and economic relief can help with environmental recovery. But poverty alleviation does not always work as it should.

Wuwei county, in east China’s Anhui province, has an annual income of 500 million yuan (around US$64.5 million); its economy has ranked in the province’s top 10 for the last three years, yet it is still classed as a key county for national poverty-relief projects. Similarly, Fengtai county, also in Anhui, has had the largest income in the province for the past three years, and is still a focus of the province’s poverty alleviation programme.

Around 200 million people in China live in poverty, second in the world only to India, with most living in the rural parts of less-developed regions. Although China has seen rapid economic growth, it has been concentrated on the east coast, with the rest of the country left far behind. Some have said that in terms of development, China has “European” cities, but “African” villages. [Full Text]

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