The proposed project aims to promote environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive urbanization in Huanggang Municipality in Hubei Province, the People's Republic of China (PRC) through improvements in urban environmental infrastructure and management. The project will support urban lake and river enhancement, solid waste management, and related urban environmental facilities and services.
Huanggang is located in eastern Hubei Province, 78 kilometers (km) away from the provincial capital Wuhan. Huanggang is the second most populated municipality in Hubei Province with 7.46 million residents. Building on traditionally rural-based economy, Huanggang is one of the poorest municipality in the province and has relatively low urbanization rate of 35.7%. Huanggang Municipal Government (HMG), in its Twelfth Five-Year Plan (12th FYP), targets to transform its economic structure and facilitate urbanization with expanded secondary and tertiary industries. Huanggang is well positioned to take advantage of national and regional development plans. Benefiting from close proximity to Wuhan, good connectivity with neighboring cities and provinces, and rich historic, cultural and human resources, Huanggang has potential to play a strategic role in facilitating socioeconomic development in the central region of the PRC envisaged under the Central Region Development Plan and in establishing a megacity cluster around Wuhan for balanced regional development in the province.
The development potential of Huanggang has been constrained by various urban development challenges. The existing central urban area is dense and cannot accommodate growing urban population and increasing economic activities. Limited urban space and inadequate urban infrastructure has slowed down economic development, which has in turn slowed down urbanization process, resulting in Huanggang lagging behind other cities and sidelined from mainstream developments in the province. The Huanggang City Master Plan (2012-2030) recognized such fundamental constraint to urban and economic development, and initiated eastward urban expansion by developing a new urban district, with adequate urban space, infrastructure and services, and environment-friendly and socially inclusive urban design to support sustainable rural-urban transition.
Located in river flood plain on the north bank of the Yangtze River, Huanggang is rich in lakes and rivers. HMG, realizing the importance of water environment to the city's sustainable development, has made increasing investments in pollution source control and environment improvement. However, such efforts have been limited to the existing urban area, leaving lakes and rivers of the surrounding area unattended. The Baitan and Chiye lakes are in the center of the newly developed urban district where the government's interventions have not reached. The long neglected lakes and associated nine rivers have been ecologically and environmentally degraded. Surface water is polluted with organic matters and nutrients and is currently measured at class V or worse. The lakes and rivers are silted and blocked with polluted sediments, further degrading their water environment and ecology, weakening resilience to floods and droughts, and subsequently affecting public health and safety. The current environmental conditions of the Baitan and Chiye lakes and associated rivers limit Huanggang's ability to promote sustainable development.
To address key urban development challenges in Huanggang, the project will strategically support (i) enhancement works in Baitan and Chiye lakes and associated rivers, to improve water quality, enhance flood protection, unblock the channels connecting the lakes and reestablish natural hydraulic circulation, thereby improving the retention capacity of water bodies and their resilience to climate change impacts, and restore the ecological functions of the lakes and their habitats; (ii) building of key urban infrastructure for the solid waste management system around the lakes including public awareness campaigns on solid waste sorting, reuse, recycling and safe disposal; and (iii) strengthening institutional capacity for sustainable urban development and urban management services. The creation of healthy water environment and provision of key urban infrastructure and institutional support will enhance liveability of Huanggang and allow urban expansion to support the city's sustainable development. It will also enable Huanggang to optimize its development potential and contribute to the city's inclusive growth, with improved investment environment and associated employment opportunities.