BEIJING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $150 million loan to conduct urgently-needed upgrades to infrastructure and services in the fast growing city of Akesu in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
“While the urban population has grown significantly in recent years, infrastructure investments haven’t kept pace, resulting in variable service coverage and environmental degradation,” said Kristina Katich, an ADB Urban Development Specialist. “ADB’s assistance will allow the city to address gaps in water, sanitation, and heating in existing urban areas, and protect its threatened waterways, resulting in better quality of life and improved livelihoods.”
The loan is ADB’s first for the urban sector in the southern Xinjiang. The funds will be used to build or upgrade about 75 kilometers (km) of urban roads, including 19 km of separated motorized and non-motorized lanes; improve public green spaces; lay about 38 km of water pipes; construct about 78 km of sewerage lines; and install 44 km of central heating pipelines and associated equipment. Street cleaning, waste collection, and transport equipment and vehicles will also be purchased.
Recognizing the importance of local water resources, assistance will also be given to rehabilitate about 95 hectares (ha) of degraded wetland near central Akesu. Wetland improvements will include forest shelterbelts; wetland protection and monitoring facilities. A wildlife rescue and disease control center and public education facilities will also be established to protect migratory birds.
These measures are aimed at providing a model for wise wetland use across the PRC, particularly in water-scarce areas, as well as helping to support water resource management in the Tarim River Basin.
The upgrades will directly benefit more than 263,000 people—nearly half from ethnic minority communities and almost 17% of them poor. A special feature of the project will be the pilot development of two “living streets” in ethnic minority communities that prioritize non-motorized transport, creating a safe public space for children to play and the community to socialize. Targets for women’s participation in project activities have also been set, including at least 45% of the jobs generated, to ensure they play a full role.
The Akesu Municipal Government will provide counterpart funding of nearly $101 million for the project, which will run for about 5 years with an expected completion date of end October 2020.
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, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.