300 000 households in the poorest counties of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and of Shanxi Province in Western China are the target group. The Hui population is the majority in Ningxia, while Shanxi is almost entirely inhabited by the Han people. 90% of the households are poor, out of which 10% classified as very poor. Women make up a large part of the target group. Although they contribute significantly to farm production and household tasks they have the least access to education and training, and therefore less income-earning opportunities. Poverty in this region is characterized by harsh living conditions. The villages are in remote areas with inadequate access roads; health and education facilities available are outdated. The land yield is low and droughts and floods occur too often. Due to these conditions, most households experience a food deficit for two to four months a year. Despite these circumstances, farmers have developed complex cropping systems that make the most of local conditions and minimize the inherent risks.
The goal of the 'Environment Conservation and Poverty-Reduction Programme in Ningxia and Shanxi' is to reduce poverty for the vulnerable rural households living in an environment with limited and deteriorating natural resources. During the development of the project, households were consulted using participatory approaches and they requested assistance for investments in production activities to raise their incomes and improve food security. While the project participants are aware of opportunities available with perennial cash crops, their lack of resources and know-how hampers production. IFAD's main objective in supporting this programme is to offer households increased access to economic and social resources including financial services, education, health and social networks.
With this project, IFAD will have financed 17 projects in the People's Republic of China, for a total loan amount of USD 429 million.
IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations with the specific mandate of combating hunger and poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978 IFAD has financed 628 projects in 115 recipient countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.9 billion in loans and grants. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have had a chance to move out of poverty. IFAD makes the greater part of its resources available to low-income countries on very favorable terms, with up to 40 years for repayment and including a grace period of up to ten years and a service charge of 0.75% per year.