Great achievements have been made in poverty reduction in Northwestern China, an area which contains a higher than average proportion of 55 different ethnic minority groups, with over half of the villagers being self-supporting, and where the main factors leading to poverty are adverse natural conditions, shortage of available water, weak infrastructure and backward social development. By analyzing the institutional framework relating to the water sector and the meeting of different water requirements (i.e., the human right to water, the environmental right to water, and economic development), as well as presenting case studies on two model villages and two kinds of important water infrastructures (i.e., the water split and silt dam), the role of good water governance in China's development-oriented poverty reduction process is identified, with particular focus on lessons that can be learned. In conclusion, lessons are drawn from the aspects of policy and management, balancing different and competitive water requirements as well as short-term and long-term benefits of the poor, and stakeholder participation.

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