MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Chongqing, a fast-developing municipality in the western part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is testing an integrated approach to help its districts and counties improve infrastructure in order to bridge the rich-poor income gap.
The Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $150 million loan to help finance several projects that will improve access to safe drinking water and all-weather roads, as well as better resilience to flood risk in some districts and counties.
“To rebalance development, Chongqing must support different levels of cities, towns, and villages to enhance its physical connectivity and economic competitiveness,” said Diwesh Sharan, Director of Urban and Social Sectors Division at ADB’s East Asia Department. “Balancing urban-rural development means bringing better access to economic activities and social services to smaller towns and villages within Chongqing, which should in turn bring better opportunities for the poor.”
Chongqing is emerging as an important western-region growth hub and a major transportation and economic center of PRC, with its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) reaching CNY34,500 (or $5,640). However, the economic benefits in Chongqing have been unevenly distributed. Chongqing’s western central districts produce 78% of its total gross domestic product. In 2011, the ratio of per capita GDP of the wealthiest district to the poorest county was 9:1, while average urban income is more than three times higher than the average rural income. In 2012, about 2 million people were living below the municipal poverty line of an annual per capita income of CNY2,300 ($354).
The infrastructure projects include building river and flood management systems in the Rongchang Rongfeng river, Wulong Wu river, and Youyang Longtan river; better urban–rural road connections in Chengkou, Fuling and Shizhu; and a water supply system in Wanzhou. The projects are expected to directly benefit around 260,000 people.
The project will demonstrate new approaches for integrated urban-rural development including climate change adaptation, ecologically-sound flood protection design, effective management of drinking water quality, and enhanced road safety in seven districts and counties in Chongqing.