|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Pingxiang is a poverty-stricken, resource-depleted, mountainous city with a population of 1.87 million and an area of 3,827 square kilometers. The city is (i) in the western portion of the poor, flood disaster-stricken Jiangxi Province; (ii) 70 kilometers (km) east of the Chang-Zhu-Tan city-cluster; and (iii) connected to national highways and to the high-speed rail network. Development in Pingxiang has lagged significantly behind national averages and was chosen as one of 12 cities nationwide to showcase industrial transformation, from an economy based on resource extraction to one that is more diverse. Pingxiang experiences serious floods and environmental pollution, and was chosen to become a pilot city for climate-proof, sponge city development. Pingxiang''s urbanization ratio is low and rural poverty is high, and the city was chosen to implement an innovative approach to rural -urban integration in Jiangxi Province, one that delivers infrastructure and jobs in closer proximity to rural residents.
The per capita gross domestic product in Pingxiang''s counties is about half that in the urban core, which is in turn about half that of nearby Changsha. Lianhua is a national poverty county, and there are 113 designated poverty villages in the municipality. The Pingxiang municipal government (PMG) Resource-Depleted Transitional Development Plan (2013- 2020) promotes balanced and sustainable urban -rural development and aims to (i) expand and link the centers of Anyuan and Xiangdong districts, with an expected combined population of 800,000 by 2020; and (ii) strengthen county-level cities as subcenters in Lianhua, Luxi, and Shangli counties, with a population of 70,000 -120,000 residents in each by 2020.
Flood risk-reduction is a top priority in Pingxiang. Flood frequency and severity have increased significantly since 1998. Floods in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010, and 2014 affected more than 496,000 people, caused the collapse of more than 2,600 houses, and resulted in significant economic losses in agriculture. A major flood on 25 May 2014 severely impacted public safety and health, and caused an estimated $115 million in economic losses. Most riverbanks in Pingxiang have inadequate flood protection; sediment accumulation from riverbank erosion and mining has raised riverbeds, further reducing the flood discharge capacity of rivers.
Pingxiang is a headwater municipality; all its rivers originate in the mountainous areas, and flow into two river systems: (i) the Gan River, which drains northeast into Poyang Lake; and (ii) the Xiang River, which flows northwest into Dongting Lake. Where rivers flow through farmland, settlements, and industrial and mining areas they collect pollutants and sediments. At the end of 2012, the urban wastewater treatment rate in Pingxiang was 75.8%, well below the national average. Many small cities and townships lack or have incomplete sewer systems, and no wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Domestic wastewater is discharged untreated into rivers, affecting downstream jurisdictions and Poyang Lake. Illegal solid waste disposal along rivers is common, particularly in rural areas without regular collection. Some rivers in Pingxiang provide drinking water for local communities, and pollution poses serious risks to public health.
Pingxiang''s rural areas have limited access to markets, jobs, training, education, and services in towns and cities. The lack of adequate roads and public transport limits rural development, jobs, and livelihood opportunities. Except for the main east west and north south corridors served by highways and national roads, many existing roads in Pingxiang are narrow and poorly maintained, particularly in the rural and mountainous areas.
Pingxiang is focused on developing its core urban area, with less priority given to the development of rural areas. Continued unbalanced and disconnected development will result in an increasing social, economic, and environmental divide between urban and rural areas. Pingxiang is approaching its challenges with non-integrated engineering, which addresses problems from one dimension, while typically generating new problems in other areas. Non-integrated approaches to flood protection which typically comprise solid walls and concrete dikes force stormwater into a channel, potentially causing downstream flash floods and degrading river environments; this harms river ecology, and the lack of natural capacity to absorb rainwater runoff that flows into rivers necessitates increased investment compared with an integrated approach that strategically preserve floodplains.
Strategic fit. The project supports the PRC''s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011- 2015) and the PRC''s National New-Type Urbanization Plan (2014 -2020) by contributing to balanced urbanization with livable, eco-efficient, and inclusive cities; and Pingxiang''s development, flood risk management, and transportation plans. The project (i) is aligned with the country partnership strategy, 2011 -2015 for the PRC of the Asian Development Bank (ADB); (ii) is included in ADB''s country operations business plan, 2015- 2017 for the PRC; (iii) supports ADB''s (a) Strategy 2020 goal of livable and sustainable cities through creation of cleaner and healthier environments; (b) urban operational plan that aims at inclusive, green, and competitive urban development; (c) water operational plan aiming at integrated water resources management; and (d) sustainable transport initiative operational plan in its objective to support rural roads; and (iv) provides innovative solutions as emphasized in ADB''s Midterm Review of Strategy 2020, complementing physical with nonstructural measures in flood risk management.
Pilot features. The project includes best practices and pilot demonstration features. Best practices include (i) linking and functionally integrating infrastructure to optimize development impacts, including river, wastewater, and road components; (ii) implementation of national regulations on water and wastewater tariffs (promulgated by the government and prepared with ADB assistance) established an enabling environment for private sector participation (as regulations require full cost recovery), mainly for the water supply sector in Pingxiang; and (iii) road alignment optimization through the study of alternatives to minimize and balance resettlement and environmental impacts. Pilot demonstration features include (i) urban -rural flood risk management and climate resilience partnerships; (ii) ecological river management supporting sustainable urban- rural sponge city development; and (iii) community-based environment supervision and roads safety education teams.