BEIJING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million loan for a rural road project that will boost local incomes and cut poverty in Liupanshan, Ningxia—one of the poorest areas of the People’s Republic of China.
“In an area where more than three quarters of the local people rely on agriculture for their livelihood, poor connectivity isolates communities and is a major cause of poverty,” said Masahiro Nishimura, an ADB Transport Specialist. “Improving the roads will better connect them to urban centers and provide more reliable access to income opportunities and services such as education and health.”
More than 600,000 people comprising 38% of farmers live under the national poverty line in Liupanshan, an area where Hui minorities make up 59% of the population. During rainy periods, local roads—which are mostly unpaved—become impassable, leaving the farmers stranded with perishable crops they cannot bring to market. Poor accessibility also drives up the cost of social, education, health, and other services and reduces nonfarming opportunities.
The project will improve seven rural trunk roads totaling 266 kilometers (km) connecting high poverty areas with national or provincial highways and 21 rural feeder roads totaling 168 km that reach further into poor villages. The rehabilitated roads will connect 110 administrative villages—83 of them poor—and 237 non-administrative natural villages, 84 of which lack access to paved roads.
With climate change predicted to increase the intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall and floods, as well as mudslides in this mountainous area, the roads face ever worsening conditions. In the face of this, the road and drainage design takes account of future climate change impacts.
Maintenance stations lack the skills and equipment to keep the roads in good order while being bogged down with routine cleaning and clearing that would be better carried out by local residents. Construction and maintenance opportunities set aside for women, who will also benefit more generally from the easier, faster, and safer travel from better roads. The project will form women’s maintenance groups to conduct routine maintenance on all project feeder roads and increase employment opportunities for women, with initial support from a technical assistance grant from ADB’s Gender and Development Cooperation Fund. In addition, the project will support the building of private contractors’ capacity through their engagement to carry out medium level maintenance.
Road safety is another key issue, since the project area is prone to accidents amid the steep, mountainous terrain. The project will improve road safety by developing a system of assessments and audits capable of being replicated throughout Ningxia, incorporating the recommendations into the project design.
The impact of the project on poverty reduction in the target area will be measured through a special survey and analysis.
The total cost of the project is $265.54 million, of which the government will contribute $165.54 million. The estimated completion date is the end of 2021.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.