World Bank approves China projects

The World has approved two loans worth $360 million in all for two projects in China - the Yangtze Dike strengthening project (worth $210 million) and the Hebei Urban Environment project (US$150 million) - which will bring great environmental and social benefits to millions of Chinese in rural and urban areas.

These projects complement two that received approval earlier this month – the Second Beijing Environment project ($349 million) and Chongqing Urban Environment project ($200 million). They also fulfill key objectives of the World Bank’s development strategy in China, including safeguarding the environment, reducing infrastructure bottlenecks, and improving the lives of the country’s inhabitants.

The Yangtze Dike strengthening project is intended to help protect the banks of the flood-prone Yangtze river against erosion, and will improve critical sections of existing main dikes to protect properties and lives in Hunan and Hubei provinces, where 75 million people rely on river dikes for flood protection.

The project will involve strengthening the river bank and flood protection dikes, rehabilitating flood gates and cross dike structures and providing flood control facilities for dike operation and maintenance. It will also mean developing operations and maintenance capacity at provincial and municipal levels; expanding dike monitoring systems and developing emergency preparedness systems. The Bank also wants to see a greater degree of self-financing achieved through flood levy collection from project beneficiaries to pay for the operation and maintenance of dikes.

‘The 1998 flood of the river affected some 21 million people, displaced four million, and destroyed 1.3 million houses, factories, and commercial centres, causing nearly $20 billion in damages,’ said project task manager Daniel Gunaratnam. ‘This project aims to help China improve its systems of flood protection and response; dike management and operation along the Yangtze, in order to help mitigate the terrible social and financial costs a future flood might bring. We estimate that the project’s flood protection measures will benefit an area of land roughly the size of 2.1 million hectares, and that the project will improve the quality of life for over 15 million people through protection of houses, schools, public and commercial buildings and infrastructure facilities such as airports, ports, railroads, and highways.’

An environmental impact component was designed into the project to address any potential adverse environmental effects – including impacts on natural physical resources, natural ecological resources, economic development, quality of life standards, and global environmental issues. Having done this, the aim is to develop control measures to mitigate any possible adverse effects – an environmental management plan has been developed as an integral part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA).

The overall project cost of $545.5 million will be partly financed with a grant of $335 million from the Chinese government.

The Hebei urban environment project aims to provide a means of sustaining the long-term economic growth of urban areas in Hebei province during a period of strong economic growth. This will be achieved by supporting the province in implementing a long-term urban environmental services improvement program to help Hebei recover from its legacy of water and land pollution, provide an adequate supply of safe water to the growing urban population and economy, and inaugurate institutional and financial reforms.

Through a program of wastewater management, upgrading and expansion of the water supply, environmental pollution control, and institutional strengthening and training, the project aims to eventually reduce the pollution load from the province’s cities and expand the water supply capacity in urban areas. In all, a population of 2.9 million people will benefit from the improvements.

The $293 million project will be financed by a Government contribution of $143 million and an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan of $150 million.

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