The proposed project aims to improve the living conditions of urban residents in Jiuquan Municipality in Gansu Province, People's Republic of China (PRC) through improvements to urban environment and transport services. The project will support river environment improvement works, urban roads, bridges and associated utility infrastructure, and institutional strengthening and capacity development of related urban environment and transport services.
The project is located in Jiuquan in northwest Gansu Province, approximately 730 kilometers (km) northwest of provincial capital of Lanzhou. The population of the municipality is 1.2 million and that of the city is 464,000 in 2010, of which 248,000 live in urban area. Jiuquan city is spread over a low-lying plain on the banks of the Beidahe river between the southern limits of the Gobi desert and the northern range of Qilian mountain. Jiuquan is rich in natural resources and its key industries are renewable energy equipment, agricultural products processing and construction materials, with growing tourism development increasingly contributing to the city's economic output. In the route of Hexi Corridor, Jiuquan has historically been an oasis of the ancient Silk Road and has a potential to serve as a vital artery for the relatively less developed northwestern region of the PRC and promoting regional economic integration with the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation countries.
However, Jiuquan suffers from various urban environmental problems partly due to harsh natural environment proximate to the desert and partly due to lack of investment in key urban infrastructure. Jiuquan has a continental desert climate with constrained water resources and high evaporation. The annual average precipitation is only 84 millimeter (mm) but significant run-off occurs from snow melt in the Qilian mountain range coupled with torrential rainfall during summer which at times causes seasonal flooding. Sand and dust being transported by frequent strong winds from the desert cause atmospheric pollution, high incidence of respiratory illness and productivity loss. Long neglected Beidahe river faces ecological and environmental degradation, induces floods and droughts more frequently and severely than in the past, and subsequently affects the public environment, health and safety. Jiuquan's increasingly congested urban roads experience road surface and base course failures, and thus limit the city's ability to play a connecting role along the Hexi Corridor.
To address the environmental problems and challenges, the project will support an integrated multi-functional river improvement approach comprising river training works, water impounding structures, embankments and engineered wetlands, which will collectively reduce urban flood and drought risks, improve the river's retention capacity and resilience to the climate change impacts, restore the ecological function of the river and its habitats, and provide a landscaped area for public amenity. The project will also support planting wind-breaking tree screens along the shoals and banks of Beidahe river which will provide natural windbreak to defend the city against sandstorms and enhance public amenity. The project will introduce a modern approach to irrigate the plantations from new impounding structures to be replenished during high run-off period and used for low flow conditions, which will contribute to enhancing efficiency of water use and conservation of water resources in Jiuquan.
Roads serving the old part of the urban area have become increasingly congested and some were not well maintained and experience surface failures. Those roads also lack the provision of utility service mains resulting in inefficient supplies to adjacent housing and commercial properties. The project will support the construction and reconstruction of such urban roads and bridges, thereby relieving congestion on the existing road network and improving access to the main industrial employment areas and from farm to market for neighboring rural areas. Urban service delivery will also be improved by providing new municipal utility services mains to the areas along the roads and bridges.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
||Through integrated urban environment improvement, the project will enhance the livability of Jiuquan and support the city's sustainable development. The project will also contribute to promoting balanced regional development in the PRC as well as in Gansu Province. The project supports the PRC's country partnership strategy (2008-2010) advocating efficient urban infrastructure, strengthening environmental management, supporting inclusive growth, and well balanced development. The project will build on Asian Development Bank (ADB) experience gained from other urban development projects, reflect lessons from the previous water resources management projects and small and medium-sized cities' development projects, and incorporate international practices on environmentally sound and sustainable river rehabilitation and transport investment. Given the harsh physical environment and scarcity of water resources in Jiuquan, the project will undergo thorough due diligence to ensure that the project-supported urban development will be sustainable in view of the carrying capacity of the natural system. Innovative features will be explored in designing river rehabilitation works, water impounding structures, wetlands engineering, and tree screening plantations to maximize integrated environmental and social benefits and involve community participation. Roads and bridges will be designed to accommodate non-motorized transport and support low-carbon urban development taken into account.