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UNDP Helps Reconstruction in Quake-hit Zone

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As the Wenchuan tragedy passes its first anniversary, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the China State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (LGOP) are working together to step up reconstruction efforts in quake-hit areas, with a focus on the poorest communities.

As part of this mission, LGOP, UNDP and Sichuan Provincial Poverty Reduction Office jointly organized a field trip to Makou Village of Lizhou County, Guangyuan City in Sichuan Province.

UNDP China Country Director Subinay Nandy said: "We will seek out first-hand information on the progress of the program and try better to understand needs and challenges that require further attention and assistance by directly communicating with the villagers."

"UNDP is focusing on assisting the most vulnerable: children, women, the elderly and disabled people," said Nandy. "The ultimate goal of the program is not only to help people in need to recover the life they have lost, but to build a life that is better and greener," he added.

Makou village is one of 19 pilot poor villages in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces established by LGOP in partnership with UNDP.

The program aims to assist the Government and affected communities in meeting the unprecedented challenges of recovery, reconstruction and risk management. It also supports LGOP in scaling up the participatory approach in recovery construction to promote the communities’ participation in building their own new life.

Xu Hui, director of the Planning Department of LGOP, said: "It is the responsibility of LGOP to help the communities to rebuild because many earthquake-affected areas are also poor rural areas."

According to LGOP, the program will guide 4,834 poor villages in the three provinces. It is expected that the development gap between the poor and the better-off will be reduced during the reconstruction period by accelerating the development of infrastructure, production and self-development capacity.

Xu said that during the visit to Makou Village, participants in the field-trip observed the construction of permanent rural housing, including the on-going construction of a village welfare house to accommodate vulnerable households.

Through a participatory approach encouraged by the program, all local households have been involved in the recovery and reconstruction planning process to prioritize their needs and actions.

"I lost both my daughter-in-law and grandson during the earthquake, and was left with no source of income," said Wang Bilie, a 54-year-old woman from the village.

"With the help of the village, I can support myself by participating in the cash-for-work scheme, and through raising poultry, further supported by village-level micro-finance. I now have the confidence to face the future," she added.

The program will run for two years starting from September 2008, and the total amount of funds invested is US$5.36 million, including the UNDP fund plus approximately US$1.65 million (2 million Canadian dollars) contributed by the Canadian Government.

Sectors involved have included community redevelopment, the restoration of livelihoods and economic life, environmental improvement, and the promotion of clean energy usage.

According to UNDP in China, over 25,000 people have directly benefited from the program, including over 15,000 women and children.

( by Wang Ke May 14, 2009)