Rural Living Environment Governance: A Survey and Comparison between Two Villages in Henan Province of China
In China, and across the world, the governance of rural living environments is a key step on the road to economic development. An estimated 880 million people live in poverty in developing countries, and about 50% of the rural population lack improved sanitation facilities. Poor sanitation around the world contributes to the prevalence of diseases and increased environmental pollution. According to World Bank estimates, about 68% of the world’s poor live in rural areas, making a focus on rural areas critical.
This study considers two case study villages in China’s Henan province, exploring local perceptions of grassroots government initiatives to improve the rural settlement environment. The two villages have received different levels of government input to the rural human settlement environment.
Studying perceptions of the rural living environment
We used questionnaires, in-depth interviews, and other methods to investigate the feelings and views of farmers, grassroots village cadres, and other stakeholders towards the improvement of the rural living environment. We also evaluated the agency of the farmers themselves and tried to analyse the factors influencing levels of satisfaction with rural human settlement environments from the perspective of grassroots governance.
Finally, we put forward suggestions in line with the actual development scenarios for the improvement of rural human settlements, especially in less developed areas of China. The differences in economic development level and infrastructure between the two villages reflect the differences in rural environmental governance level. The results could guide the selection of rural environmental governance decision-making pathways for grassroots initiatives in China and beyond.