Women sewing

China is the first country that met the UN target of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty. Despite its rapid economic growth, the number of people in China living in extreme poverty in 2015 accounted for around 7 per cent of the world’s poor population according to global standards. Currently, there are still over 70 million people who live below the national poverty line of less than 2,300 Yuan (353.75 US Dollars) a year in the rural areas.

Poverty issues in China are diverse and complex. Its poverty population has become increasingly scattered, and now mainly congregates in 14 rural areas. Some of these areas are where climate change and natural disasters have greatly impacted the agricultural industry and the livelihoods of farmers. Growing wealth and income inequality, particularly between rural and urban areas, has also continued to aggravate the situation.

Millions of rural people are migrating to the cities to improve their livelihoods, yet they are often discriminated against in the labor market and face various difficulties due to unfair policies. These migrant workers together with their children, who are often either left behind in their villages or who migrate to the cities with their parents, experience new problems in urban poverty, including those in housing, their livelihoods, children’s education and social security.  

Gender inequality and gender-based violence also remains widespread, which highlights the vulnerability of women and other disadvantaged groups during this period of social transformation in mainland China.

As the biggest emerging economy, China continues to grow as an investor, trading partner, provider of aid and finance, and source of development experience for developing countries, especially those in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Oxfam in China

Oxfam has been working in the Mainland since 1987, one of the first international non-governmental organizations to do so. We have also supported projects in almost every province, region and municipality. We work with partner organizations, including NGOs, governments and research institutions, to carry out humanitarian relief, poverty alleviation and advocacy work in villages as well as cities.

  • Rural community development - We focus on four major areas when assisting remote and impoverished villages in western provinces: income growth, disaster relief and risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and community development. We also advocate a community-driven approach to manage our projects.
  • Emergency relief and disaster management - We use a participatory approach which involves the whole community, and respond to different disasters through a multidimensional approach. Oxfam is also Sphere’s focal point in China.
  • Urban livelihood improvement - We collaborate with civil society and academic partner organizations to support migrant workers through campaigns, our messages about workplace safety, supporting community services, and offering education and legal assistance in over 10 cities.
  • Basic education -We aim to promote equal access to education and the implementation of multicultural education by supporting the establishment of schools, providing teachers with training and influencing policies through our advocacy work.
  • Climate change and poverty - We find ways to introduce climate change adaptation measures and low carbon development in poor rural communities in order to fight against climate change’s effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
  • Gender justice - We stand against gender-based violence, empower women, and raise awareness about gender equality by providing direct services to women, offering public education, as well as advocating for policy changes and community development.
  • Civil society development - We facilitate the establishment of supportive organisations to provide capacity building training, and exchange and learning opportunities for local civil society organisations.
  • Agriculture and poverty reduction policy - We put a lot of emphasis on research and policy advocacy, and commit to promoting the alleviation and elimination of poverty problems at the institutional level.
  • China and the developing world - We advocate for the government and corporations in China to be a progressive force for development in developing countries, and strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations.