|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Gansu, located in the northwest PRC, is the second poorest province in terms of gross domestic product per capita in the country. Despite buoyant economic growth in recent years, poor infrastructure and high transportation costs heavily constrained economic opportunities in the long-term. As part of the National Strategy for Development of the West, the government has focused on developing infrastructure (transport, municipal infrastructure, power, communication, and water resources) to stimulate and sustain economic growth in the province. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been actively supporting the government's efforts to stimulate Gansu's economic development. This project, together with other ADB-financed technical assistance and loan projects in the province, fully supports the above strategy.
Known as the eastern gateway because of its close proximity to the provincial capital of Lanzhou, the city of Dingxi has a population of 2.9 million with 21.38% living below the poverty line. The Wei River, one of the Yellow River's biggest tributaries flows through the district and is the major source of its water supply. Unfortunately, the city is surrounded by ravines in the north and highlands in the south which is responsible for its semi-arid topography, harsh winters, and scarce water resources. Lack of investments in infrastructure, particularly road networks has seriously threatened the flourishing of Dingxi's agriculture and natural resource-based industries.
Zhangye City is in the center of the Hexi Corridor which is part of the ancient Silk Road. It has a population of 1.28 million, 20.8% of which lives below the poverty line. The city is home to the 210,000 hectare-Zhangye wetlands which is one of the most critical aquatic ecosystems in the Northwest PRC. Twenty percent of the total wetland area has already vanished due to rapid urbanization combined with excessive water use and pollution. This has undermined the city's capacity to provide adequate water supply, flood control, biological diversity, and natural breeding grounds for rare species of birds and animals listed in the Annex of the China Conservation Law of Wild Animals. Meanwhile, the capacity to absorb increased population and rural migrants has become increasingly difficult due to infrastructure, environmental, and financial constraints. Consequently, sustainable urbanization and environmental protection have become priority goals for the city. Introduction of effective wetland protection technologies alongside urban infrastructure development and efficient urban development management in the city's Binhe district will help improve the urban environment and boost eco-tourism, real estate development, transportation, and other sectors of the city's economy.