|1. Project Data:
ICR Review Date Posted:
|Poor Rural Communities Development Project
Project Costs(US $M)
Loan/Credit (US $M)
|Agriculture and Rural Development
Cofinancing (US $M)
Board Approval Date
|General agriculture fishing and forestry sector (65%), Roads and highways (13%), Sub-national government administration (10%), General water sanitation and flood protection sector (6%), General education sector (6%)|
|Participation and civic engagement (23% - P)
Other rural development (22% - P)
Rural services and infrastructure (22% - P)
Indigenous peoples (22% - P)
Education for all (11% - S)|
||ICR Review Coordinator:
|2. Project Objectives and Components:|
The project objective stated in the Project Appraisal Document (page 3) is:
“to improve livelihoods security and achieve sustained participation of the poorest rural people in project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation in eighteen counties of the three project provinces”.
The statement of the project objective in the Loan Agreement (page 21) is identical in substance:
“to assist the Borrower to: (i) improve the livelihood security of the poorest rural people in selected counties of the project provinces; and (ii) to achieve sustained participation of said poorest rural people in the project’s design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation”.
b. Were the project objectives/key associated outcome targets revised during implementation?
c. Components:Sustainable Mountain Agriculture (Appraisal cost $21.6 million, Actual cost $22.3 million).
This was to provide project households in the 1,063 project villages support for reinforcing their food security, through: (i) provision of seed or seedlings, and small tools to be utilized by households to cultivate cash crops and tree crops; and (ii) extending the improved agricultural technology to households; (iv) provision of young animals and small tools for livestock production; and (ii) upgrading of animal housing facilities. The component was also to support improvements in agriculture-related services in the project communities, including agro-processing, packaging, transportation, and marketing. Technical support activities under the component included: (i) provision of agricultural training to farmers and to farmer technicians, including applied technology training; (ii) provision of support services to households, such as, agricultural extension, market development, veterinary, breeding, fodder establishment, crop management, and animal disease prevention; and (iii) provision of pick-up trucks and motorcycles, equipment, vaccines and seeds.
Basic Rural Infrastructure (Appraisal cost $12.9 million, Actual cost $16.1 million).
The component supported: (i) improvement in village access through construction and improvement of roads, tracks and paths; (ii) provision of potable water supplies for humans and livestock; (iii) construction of small water conservancy works (including irrigation and drainage) with associated land improvements; (iv) extension of rural electrification and communications networks; and (v) household energy and sanitation improvements. The infrastructure was to be limited to small-scale works that directly benefit the project communities which were to be involved in their prioritization, construction and maintenance through a rigorous community participation process.
Basic Education Infrastructure (Appraisal cost $1.8 million, Actual cost $2.6 million). The component supported strengthening livelihoods and wellbeing of the project area population by improving access to primary education for poor and vulnerable children and adult education and training. Specifically, the activities included: (i) rehabilitation of decrepit schools in poor and remote villages; (ii) training primary school teachers with innovative teaching methodologies; (iii) supporting the transformation of the village schools to be community learning centers; and (iv) providing training services to the adults in the project villages with a focus on functional literacy education and practical technical skills.
Basic Health (Appraisal cost $2.0 million, Actual cost $2.4 million). The component aimed to improve the health status of the population in the project area through improved access to basic health care. This included: (i) financial assistance to ensure the availability of basic health services to the poorest, including free maternal care and immunization, and inpatient care; (ii) strengthening of public health programs, including: maternal and child health care, immunizations for children, children’s nutrition and control of parasitosis, and health education for communities on basic health knowledge and HIV/AIDS; and (iii) improvement of basic health service capacities at the township and village levels through training for health workers, building village clinics and rehabilitating health facilities, provision of basic equipment and essential drugs; and adoption of clinical protocols, drug lists, and a mutual referral system.
Community Capacity Building (Appraisal cost $2.5 million, Actual cost $1.8 million). This component was to promote project implementation effectiveness and sustainability through strengthening the grass roots capacity in managing community development. The activities were to: (i) improve basic production skills of the poor farm households; (ii) strengthen community leaders’ basic skills in administrative management, financial management, village-level planning, local dispute resolution, and small-scale infrastructure construction; (iii) strengthen the capacity of local communities in addressing needs of vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities and women, including special training for women; (iv) promote and strengthen community participation in the local decision-making, and establishment of farmer participatory monitoring groups; and (v) provide information and telecommunication facilities and resources for community centers.
Project Management and Monitoring (Appraisal cost $1.6 million, Actual cost $2.3 million). This component supported: (i) institutional strengthening of the provincial and local-level agencies involved in project implementation with respect to their capabilities in project design and implementation, procurement, accounting and monitoring and evaluation techniques; and (ii) development of a monitoring and information system to assess the project development impacts.
d. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
The total project cost at closure was US$163.86 million, compared to the appraisal estimate of US$142.1 million due to the depreciation of the US dollar against the Chinese yuan during the first three years of project implementation. In order to adjust to the declining value of the US dollar, the scale of project activities was reduced to some degree during the 2008 Mid-Term Review. However the overall decrease in the scope of activities was minimized by obtaining additional counterpart funding.
The Bank provided an IBRD loan in the amount of US$99.72 million and this was fully disbursed by project closure.
The Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom provided grant support to the project in the amount of US$37 million (the appraisal commitment was US$32.45 million).
The Government of China contributed US$64.64 million as against an appraisal estimate of US$42.6 million.
The project preparation period was extended some 45 months from October 2001 to June 2005. The ICR states that most of this delay was caused by: a lengthy disagreement between the Bank and the government on the project location; differences over loan repayment by the beneficiaries; and the role of the central and provincial governments in project implementation (ICR, page 7).
|3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:|
a. Relevance of Objectives:Substantial.
The project’s objectives were and remain highly relevant to the current national development priorities. The country has achieved great success in reducing the incidence of absolute poverty in the last decades. However China's rural poor still comprise a large share of global poverty. China’s rural poor are heavily concentrated in natural resource deficient mountainous areas of the central and western provinces where single sector poverty reduction measures have had limited development impact. To address the issues of poverty and inequality, China’s 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2011-2015) focuses on “inclusive growth” to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are spread to a greater proportion of Chinese citizens. The project objective to improve the livelihood security of the poorest rural people is highly relevant to the Plan’s development priorities to increase income, expand the government-funded social welfare and health care, and improve livelihoods as a means to boost consumption and GDP growth.
The project objectives are also fully consistent with the current Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2006-2010. The goal of Pillar 2 of the CPS is to “reduce poverty, inequality, and social exclusion.” The project directly supported the CPS Pillar 2 by targeting the poorest villages and most severely disadvantaged ethnic minority groups and lagging regions through a multi-sectoral package of assistance aiming at improved agricultural productivity, basic infrastructure, primary education, public health services and community capacity building. The project’s participatory approach was to greatly contribute to the goal of shifting from top-down poverty reduction programs to community driven development.
b. Relevance of Design:Substantial.
The design was consistent with the project objectives and its components and activities were logically interlinked into a results chain to achieve desired outcomes. The design tackled the issue of rural livelihood security through support to agricultural production (Component 1), rural infrastructure (Component 2), basic education (Component 3) and health (Component 4), and local level capacity building in the poorest, most remote, and most disadvantaged villages (Component 5). The proposed activities under Components 1 - 4 had a special emphasis on delivering appropriate production technologies, services and infrastructure to the village and household level. The community capacity building component was designed to have a complementary impact on all of these activities by strengthening management capacity and the participatory process at the local level. It promoted communities' participation in planning and management decisions at local level through strengthening the local capacity in administrative and financial management, establishing farmer participatory monitoring groups; and supporting the establishment of community information centers. The design supported ethnic minority people and gender equity, and people with disabilities.
|4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :|
Overall Objective: “to improve livelihoods security and achieve sustained participation of the poorest rural people in project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation”
Objective (a): to improve livelihood security: Substantial
- The project delivered farmer training in agricultural and livestock practices 245,008 person times in Sichuan, 94,248 person times in Yunnan, 44,724 household times in Guangxi. Each participating project household has received technical training at least once. Women comprised 34-52% of the trainees.
- Infrastructure management committees were set up in many project villages to manage ongoing operation and maintenance of public infrastructure (such as water supply, roads, and irrigation works). In Guangxi, 44,724 person times of training in infrastructure operation and management was provided, comprising about one-third of project infrastructure beneficiaries in the province.
- 295 km of new off-grade standard roads were constructed and benefitted about 65,693 households. In Sichuan 18 km of village roads were constructed benefitting 879 households. The project also constructed 1,826 km of roads between villages benefiting approximately 134,694 households. 56 linear meters of bridges in Yunnan were constructed serving 800 households.
- The project constructed 121 water storage ponds for irrigation, 299 km of new irrigation canals, rehabilitated 374 km of existing irrigation canals, and installed 5,538 water storage tanks. This improved irrigation facilities benefited approximately 95,412 households.
- Terracing and improvement of low and medium yield land was undertaken in Yunnan and Sichuan. In Yunnan, 407 ha of new terraces were built, and 897 ha of low and medium yield land was improved. Smaller amounts of land was improved in Sichuan with 9.3 ha of terracing and 15.7 ha low and medium yield land improvement undertaken. In total, 64,738 households benefitted from this activity.
- A total of 6,880 biogas systems were constructed in Yunnan and Sichuan providing energy for 8,880 households, while 2,202 households obtained fuel-efficient stoves in Sichuan. Electricity was supplied to some villages in Yunnan and Sichuan with the project installing 20 transformers and constructing 34 km of transmission lines benefitting about 10,400 households.
- Other infrastructure activities undertaken include construction of 122 new houses and rehabilitation of 399 houses in Guangxi; development of 4,420 mu (295 ha) of improved grassland in Yunnan that benefitted 489 households; and construction of 10,793 square meters of village markets in Guangxi that benefitted 39,996 households.
Outcomes and Intermediate Outcomes:
(a) Road access coverage was extended to 202,066 households (802,264 people). Village access roads accessible to tractors and light vehicles linked villages to existing rural road networks and therefore expanded their economic opportunities. The appraisal target on the length of constructed access roads was largely achieved: 100% of villages in the project area in Sichuan and Yunnan got access to existing rural road networks (up from 54% and 69%, respectively).
- From 2006 to 2010, project farmers’ per capita incomes increased by 12% per year, which is greater than that of non-project villages (9%), the national average for rural areas (9.2%), and all nationally designated poor counties (10%). During the same period, project farmers’ per capita consumption increased at 8.7% per year, which is greater than that of the national average (7.5%) and of all nationally designated poor counties (8.1%).
- According to the ICR, food security in project villages improved with significant reductions in the percentage of households with less than 150 kg grain/capita/year in Sichuan (from 14.0% in 2002 to 4.8% in 2010, the target at appraisal was 1.5%) and Yunnan (from 13.4% in 2001 to 2.5% in 2010, with appraisal target of 2.6%).
- The ICR reports a decline in poverty incidence over the project implementation period: in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi provinces it declined from about 35% to 6%, 62% to 32% and 80% to 31%, respectively. Although the poverty incidence targets set at appraisal were not fully achieved, the reduction is considered significant. From 2006 to 2010, the incidence of poverty declined from 15.9% to 9.3% in the project area, registering a total reduction of 6.6 percentage points. This reduction in poverty incidence outperformed the national average of 1.8 percentage points over the same period (ICR, page 52).
- The project improved living conditions by improving access to basic rural infrastructure to the following extent:
(b) The project solved drinking water problems for 120,154 households (480,000 people). The achieved reduction in the number of villages with drinking water problems exceeded its appraisal target by about 50% in Sichuan and 25% in Yunnan. In Guangxi, the percentage of households with access to running water increased from about 23% in 2007 to 47% in 2010; in Yunnan and Sichuan, it increased from 42% to 55% and 29% to 39% respectively.
(c) The ICR reports that the project extended supply of electricity to rural communities providing opportunity for small scale processing activities and improved livelihood security and income generation. It states that, by the end of the project, 98.8% of project villages had access to electricity however the baseline value is not reported.
- The project supported the improvement of basic education infrastructure as follows. The establishment and operation of the Central Learning Centers was completed in all three project provinces. The implemented Free Education Pilot resulted in increased school enrollment and completion rates in the pilot villages and townships. Specifically, the sixth grade completion rate at school increased in both Sichuan and Yunnan at project completion: in Sichuan it raised from 81% to 97% and from 88% to 99% in Yunnan.The project also fully achieved the school enrolment target rate set at appraisal (99.4% in Sichuan and 99.6% in Yunnan). The ICR states that the Pilot benefited considerably the most disadvantaged groups, such as girls and ethnic minorities.
- The project strengthened the capacity of the basic health care system and supported a variety of health services in the following ways. The ICR reports that in Sichuan it provided access to maternal and child health care services for 21,150 women and 22,578 children, modern deliveries for 21,085 infants, and 505,485 person/times of medical assistance. In Guangxi, the percentage of households receiving medical assistance increased from almost zero in 2004 to 70% in 2011. The ICR reports that in Yunnan, the implemented Cangyuan County’s HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment pilot set up an effective HIV/AIDS management and treatment in poor and remote ethnic minority areas.
Objective (b): to achieve sustained participation of the poorest rural people in project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. Substantial
- With respect to the involvement of remote communities in participatory planning and decision making, in Guangxi, 88% of the project’s villages participated in the project-related decisions, and 399 project implementation groups were set up across the poorest communities. 893 project implementation groups were set up in the poorest villages of the Yunnan province.
- Participatory project implementation plans were prepared in all project villages prior to the start of implementation. Project activities were implemented in line with community priorities identified through the participatory planning process (ICR, page 19). Project communities also actively participated in the monitoring and final evaluation of project results.
- As recorded in Good Practice Notes produced under the project, women’s participation was ensured in workshops on selecting priority project activities, discussions of implementation proposals for drinking water schemes, and in formulating approaches to management and maintenance of the proposed infrastructure.
- The project set up and implemented an external monitoring system allowing for reflective learning on participation and supporting the quality of the participation approach. Village representatives participated in the checking and acceptance process to ensure that villager views were represented in the technical quality control over construction works.
Outcomes and Intermediate Outcomes:
- The project sustained community participation and ownership in the implementation and monitoring and evaluation phases to ensure that priorities identified through the participatory planning were taken into account. The ICR reports (ICR, page 20) that during 2006-2010 the proportion of rural households participating in the selection of poverty reduction activities in project villages increased from 19.5% to 46.2% and the proportion of households participating in the identification of poverty reduction activities increased from 18.6% to 43.3%. Also, rural households‟ knowledge of the project within the three provinces’ project villages rose from 51.6% to 87.1%. In Guangxi, 88% of the project’s villages were directly involved with the project decision-making and 399 project implementation groups in the poorest natural villages (ICR, page 19).
- According to the project monitoring and evaluation surveys, many villagers and, in particular, women became more confident about their productive and non-productive skills as a result of the project. Project communities learned the skills necessary to manage and supervise projects and, as a result, many project villages have been able to attract substantial follow-up investments because of the demonstrated capacity to plan and implement projects (ICR, page 21).
- The project built the capacity of local project staff in the participatory approach and there appears to have been some extension beyond the project. The ICR reports that staff became increasingly aware of social inclusion issues, such as outreach to marginal groups, gender equality, and respect for cultural diversity and applied this knowledge to the project implementation. According to evidence collected by Module 2 of the project monitoring and evaluation system, participatory practices developed through the project were spreading within the provincial Poor Areas Development Office system. In the Guangxi province project practices were adopted in other agencies including county water bureaus and the Development and Reform Commission.
- The project is reported to have effectively addressed women's preferences (including schools, village clinics, and drinking water) and gender –specific needs through the participatory process. The project fully achieved its targets on women's participation in the project planning, increasing it from zero to 51% in Sichuan and from 3 % to 45% in Yunnan. The percentage of women who received training was over 52% in Yunnan (over the performance target) and 34% in Sichuan (about 70% of the set target).
Economic Rates of Return were estimated at appraisal and completion.The ICR reports that the efficiency analysis estimated ERRs of three major components: (a) Sustainable Mountain Agriculture,(b) Basic Rural Infrastructure, and (c) Basic Education. Investment in these three components accounted for about 85% of total project cost. Economic benefits of Basic Health, Community Capacity Building, and Project Management and Monitoring components were not quantified.
The component ERRs at project completion range from 22% for Basic Education to 29% for Basic Rural Infrastructure and 31% for the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture components (ICR, page 24). At appraisal, the estimated ERRs for the three components were 19%, 27% and 35% respectively (PAD, page 53). The overall ERR for the project is estimated to be 30%, which is the same as the estimate at appraisal.
Although the project closed 6 months later due to start-up delays, output targets were substantially achieved (see Section 4). The total project cost increased by 13% compared with that at appraisal but that was due to the declining value of the US dollar.
There were few operational deficiencies that would raise concerns about cost effectiveness.
There are some concerns about operation and maintenance of some investments that raise questions about sustainability. However, there are significant incentives to maintain community infrastructure given the evidence of the benefits it has provided and, on balance, Efficiency is rated Substantial.
a. If available, enter the Economic Rate of Return (ERR)/Financial Rate of Return at appraisal and the re-estimated value at evaluation:
* Refers to percent of total project cost for which ERR/FRR was calculated