BEIJING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $100 million loan for the Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Hubei Province to address environmental and public health concerns associated with widespread water pollution and flooding in the region.
“With a high incidence of rural poverty and weak fiscal resources, the prefecture in the upper Qing River basin has experienced a steady deterioration in the quality of its water and increasingly serious floods,” said Fei Yu, a Senior Economist in ADB’s East Asia Department. “This assistance will support major upgrades in wastewater and flood protection infrastructure, as well as comprehensive water and environmental management actions to address long-standing problems.”
Untreated domestic wastewater, inadequate treatment of industrial effluent and unregulated runoff from agricultural sources have left the prefecture’s water supplies—which come mainly from the Qing River—unfit for human consumption. Less than 60% of wastewater from Enshi and Lichuan is collected and treated and there are no facilities for collection and treatment of domestic wastewater in rural areas along the river and its tributaries. The lack of adequate flood control measures has resulted in at least nine major floods since the 1950s with significant loss of lives and property.
To promote sustainable economic development and cope with rapid urbanization, the Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture has drawn up a comprehensive master plan, including more than 30 projects to improve water quality and reduce flood damage.
ADB’s assistance will support the prefecture’s ongoing program. The loan will be used to fund a new wastewater treatment plant in Enshi, to expand and upgrade existing treatment facilities, and to build or improve pump stations and sewer pipelines. To reduce the impact of flood damage, over 100 kilometers of protective river embankments will be built, de-silting operations will be carried out in parts of the Qing River, and ecological “buffer zones” including wetland areas, will be created.
The assistance will also support a 2-year pilot program in Xinjie village in Enshi to reduce pollution and teach sustainable agricultural practices, including the use of organic fertilizers, the installation of biogas tanks to treat animal waste, and protection measures for riverbanks. Public education and awareness raising activities will be carried out, and a flood forecasting and warning system will be developed as a climate change adaptation step. Close to 71,000 households will benefit from the flood protection measures, and about 40,000 from improved wastewater collection and treatment, with an estimated 6,300 temporary jobs generated during the physical works phase.
The project is designed to create a model for potential replication in other smaller cities in less developed areas of the PRC and will also help demonstrate that international best practices for water treatment and flood protection in large urban centers can be applied in smaller ones, resulting in healthier and more livable cities and villages.
Along with ADB’s loan, the PRC Government will provide counterpart assistance of over $131 million. The project will run for nearly 5 years with an expected completion date of July 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 has 67 member countries—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.