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The Poor Rural Communities Development Project in China

Itad was contracted to develop and mainstream a participation approach for the Poor Rural Communities Development Project, in the Western Provinces of China.


The Western Provinces of China are amongst the country’s poorest areas and have a higher proportion of ethnic minorities. The Poor Rural Communities Development Project (PRCDP) was funded jointly with a $79 million blended loan by the World Bank and DFID.

The aim of the project

It aimed to develop an inclusive and equitable approach to government-led poverty reduction in Guangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan Provinces. The project, which was the fourth in a series of village-based multi-sectoral poverty reduction projects supported by the World Bank in China, worked with Chinese government partners in Provincial Poverty Alleviation and Development Offices (PADOs), and County and village administrations.

Our role

We were contracted to develop and mainstream a participation approach for PRCDP. Participatory development approaches in China were mostly limited to NGOs and academic groups; little had been done directly with government. Our focus was to develop an approach that would be developed with, and used by government. There was a large element of capacity building within the government system: we trained participation facilitators at county and township levels. We also established a network for learning and exchange in Guangxi.

Our approach

Our participation approach is based on a project cycle. It included methods for Participatory Poverty Analysis (PPA), Participatory Planning (PP), Participatory Project Implementation (PPI), and Participatory Monitoring and Implementation (PM&E). The approach was developed using hands-on pilots, notably with pilot mini-projects on participatory planning and implementation of small-scale infrastructure.

Our remit was broadened to provide additional support on developing an M&E framework for PRCDP. This integrated lessons on participation into project implementation and included an approach to evaluating PRCDP’s impact on poverty.

Our PRCDP participation approach was published in the Participation Manual for PRCDP which includes a wealth of practical cases from the Provinces. In 2009, PRCDP won second place at the Word Bank Social Development department’s People First Awards. This is an important award in the World Bank system, and in his acceptance speech, the PRCDP Task Team Leader acknowledged the contribution of Itad’s work on the participatory approach. At the end of PRCDP, Itad led the editing of a special issue of the PLA journal, reflecting on emerging practices in participatory poverty reduction in China, with a focus on PRCDP.

To read more have a look at the following publications:

Itad PRCDP Participation Manual

Wagging the dragon’s tail: emerging practices in participatory poverty reduction in China. Participatory Learning and Action, Issue 62. (2011). IIED, London

Image © Rice Terraces. Photo Credit: David Fleming
Team members