|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is located in the northwestern part of the PRC, the hinterland of the Eurasian continent, and shares borders with eight countries: Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, and Tajikistan. The region covers 1,665 million square kilometers (km2), about one-sixth of the total area of the PRC. In 2006, its population was 20.5 million (about 1.5% of the population of the PRC), comprising 40% Han Chinese and 60% ethnic groups, the largest of which is Uygur.
Xuar is rich in natural resources and serves as a gateway between the PRC and the Central Asian republics. Despite the abundance of natural resources, the region has lagged behind the coastal regions in terms of economic growth and reforms, and remains one of the poorest parts of the country. Of the 22 cities and 68 counties in XUAR, 27 are categorized as national poverty counties. In 2006, the per capita disposable income of urban households of XUAR was CNY8,871 ($1,267), which was the lowest among all of PRC's regions/provinces, 24.5% below the national average, and 57.1% below that of Shanghai. Environmental degradation remains a concern in the western region, particularly in the ecologically sensitive tourist attractions.
In 1999, to foster economic growth and increase the population's living standards, the Government launched the Western Region Development Strategy. The main pillars of the strategy are investments in urban infrastructure, preservation of the environment, and attraction of private sector investments in the region's economy. The ADB has been actively supporting the strategy through providing technical assistance with focus on accelerating infrastructure development and supporting trade facilitation thereby setting a foundation for inclusive economic growth. The Project will complement the ADB-financed projects aimed to improve infrastructure and environment in the region. ADB is also providing TA support trade facilitation in XUAR.
As a consequence of the ongoing Western Region development, XUAR is experiencing rapid urbanization. In 2006, the urban population in XUAR accounted for 38% of the total population. It is expected to increase to 42% by 2010 and 47% by 2015. The increasing urban population, industrialization, and economic development would continue to increase the demand for infrastructure services such as roads, solid waste management, wastewater collection and tretament, water supply, and heat supply.
Urban areas face environmental threats from polluted surface and subsurface waters from untreated wastewater and solid waste. Considerable investments are needed to expand wastewater from untreated wastewater and solid waste. Considerable investments are needed to expand wastewater collection and treatment, and construct environmental sanitation facilities such as public toilets. In XUAR in 2006, 2.78 millions of tons of municipal solid waste were collected and disposed of, only 51% of which was disposed of at sanitary landfill sites; and 655 million tons of wastewater was discharged, 69% from municipal sources and 31% from industrial sources. For the municipal wastewater, only about 60% was collected and treated in the cities/towns in 2006.
The Project is consistent with ADB's Urban Sector Strategy (1999), which supports investments in the urban sector, as a dynamic engine of economic growth and employment creation, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and supports ADB's Country Partnership Strategy for PRC to strengthen inclusive growth, improve environment, catalyze investments, and improve governance. The Project complements the ADB-financed Xinjiang Municipal Infrastructure and Environmental Improvement Project, which aims to improve road infrastructure and utility services in Alashankou land port, Kanas scenic region, and Yining City of Xuar.