China’s battle against poverty won’t suit all: expert

Rome, Oct 18 (IANS) The number of poor in China fell from 750 million in 1990 to fewer than 200 million in 2014, but Beijing’s strategy of fighting poverty may not work for all countries, a FAO expert has said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) assistant director general cautioned against a one-size-fits-all approach against poverty, reports Xinhua news agency.

Jomo, who prefers to use only one name, praised China’s achievement in reducing poverty at home.

He said the number of poor people in China fell from 750 million in 1990 to fewer than 200 million in 2014 even as the country’s overall population grew from 1.14 billion to 1.36 billion over the same span.

He said Chinese school feeding programmes were promising, helping to draw regions out of the cycle of poverty by providing healthy and balanced meals for children and providing steady demand for produce from farmers.

But the Malaysian economist said that China’s strategy for alleviating poverty might not be a good fit in other countries.

“China started its development projects in the countryside with it spreading from there, and over time it was a case of a rising tide lifting all the boats,” Jomo said.

“It worked in China, where the gap between the rich and the poor was not large at the start but it only grew with development,” Jomo said.

“But it would be a bigger problem in a country where the gap between the rich and the poor is already large.”

He said different countries would need a tailored approach to their specific needs.

“A doctor would not prescribe the same cure to patients with different types of health problems. That is the way we must look at the challenge of confronting extreme poverty,” Jomo said.

He said the problem of extreme poverty around the globe was undoubtedly easing with time, but he noted that even measuring progress on that point helped highlight the difficulty of the issue.

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