BEIJING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $150 million loan for infrastructure and service upgrades that will help lift living standards, improve the environment, and boost trade opportunities for urban centers in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China.

“Tacheng City and the county cities of Emin, Tuoli, and Yumin are in a prefecture bordering Kazakhstan rich in agricultural and mineral resources, but with major gaps in infrastructure,” said Antonio Ressano-Garcia, an ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist. “This assistance will help deliver high-quality urban services to all citizens, and open up the cities’ potential to become cross-border trading hubs.”

The urban road network in the project cities is inadequate for the projected population growth, while access to basic utilities is also low – about 16% of households are not connected to clean piped water and 19% lack connections to the sewerage system. Further, only 65% of the population in Tacheng is connected to the district heating system, with much of the rest relying on inefficient coal-fired boilers and family heating stoves, which contribute to air pollution.

The project will involve a mix of physical and service improvements including rehabilitating and building roads; expanding green and public spaces; boosting municipal solid waste collection and sorting systems, water supply, water heating and sewage facilities; and upgrading equipment at the Baktu border land port. It also includes an integrated river rehabilitation and flood protection strategy in flood-prone Tacheng, including physical works like riverbank stabilization, combined with nonstructural measures such as flood forecasting and early warning systems. The strategy taps lessons and best practices from other ADB projects in the country.

The targeted improvements will dovetail with other measures being taken by the central and local governments to build road, rail and land port facilities, which will help the region take greater advantage of rising trade opportunities between Central Asia and the PRC. By supporting greater connectivity with Kazakhstan, the project is fully in line with the PRC’s New Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, the creation of economic corridors, and the enhancement of regional cooperation and integration.

The project is expected to directly benefit more than 250,000 urban residents—including ethnic minorities—with almost half the beneficiaries’ women and girls. It will also directly create almost 1,300 jobs during the implementation phase.

Accompanying ADB’s loan, the municipal government of Tacheng and the county governments of Emin, Tuoli, and Yumin will provide counterpart support of nearly $153 million. The project is due to run for about 5 years, with an expected completion date of end 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.

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