Grassroots Assistance in Rural China

Abstract

Yumeko Shirooka is a consultant hired by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to evaluate development activities in China. As part of her evaluation activities, she visits the site of a grassroots project in rural China. The “Rural Development Project” is located in Dan feng County of Shaanxi province, which is considered to be one of the most serious areas of poverty in the county. The project activities include construction of three schools, three health centers, two rural bridges, and 46 water resource facilities, covering nine villages. The project is funded by the grassroots Project Assistance Scheme, a part of Grants-in-Aid for Japanese Overseas Development Assistance. The main purpose of this scheme is to quickly cope with diverse needs in developing countries.

Ms. Shirooka is skeptical about the success of the project at first, because the final report, written by a local expert, included photos of good-looking facilities that seem too modern to fit in the rural environment. However, her site visits, involving extensive interviews and communication with local people, start to change her mind. At the end of the field trip to the project sites, she is trying to come up with an analysis of what went particularly
well in this project that will support the funding of further grassroots assistance. Her challenge is to turn her observations into a persuasive argument for the effectiveness of grassroots development projects.

This case is intended for graduate students who are involved in development studies particularly with more technical backgrounds. The major goal of this case is to widen student perspectives beyond the technical aspects of development projects.

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