The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $150 million loan to help Pingxiang municipality in Jiangxi Province tackle long-standing flooding and connectivity problems, which are holding back development and poverty reduction.
“Pingxiang suffers from persistent and severe floods, environmental pollution, and gaps in its urban-rural road development,” said Stefan Rau, an ADB Urban Development Specialist. “This project will help the municipality overcome these obstacles using state-of-the-art environmentally-friendly green infrastructure to solve water related-problems. It will bring jobs, goods, assets, and public and private services within commuting distance of more villages and townships, and so promote more inclusive growth.”
Pingxiang, a mountainous city with a population of nearly 2 million, and all its rivers originating within the municipality and draining into two major river systems—the Gan and the Xiang—has seen a rise in the frequency and severity of floods since 1998. These have led to millions of dollars in economic losses. Inadequate sewer systems and wastewater treatment has degraded water quality and the wider environment. A lack of quality roads in rural areas means many communities have limited access to markets, jobs, and social services.
The project will fund a set of integrated infrastructure investments that optimize benefits in four main subcenters—Pingxiang in Lianhua; Luxi, and Shangli counties; and Xiangdong District. These include river rehabilitation and flood protection infrastructure, irrigation, and wastewater and pollution management, according to ADB.
Among the works to be undertaken are dredging, embankment upgrades, riparian landscape re-vegetation and wetlands rehabilitation along more than 70 kilometers (km) of rivers. Sewer pipe networks and wastewater treatment plants will be constructed in Xuanfeng Town in Luxi County and Tongmu Town in Shangli County. The project will also build a 44-km long road linking towns and villages to urban and industrial areas in Luxi and Shangli counties and Anyuan District, the municipal center.
Among the innovations, adjustable weirs will be installed for farmland irrigation, which will increase climate resilience and preserve the farmers’ livelihoods, while protecting urban and rural settlements from flooding. Widespread replanting of embankments, shelterbelts, wetland floodplains, and public green spaces will enhance the environment and support Pingxiang as a pilot in the national government’s “sponge city” program in which cities use greenways, parks and wetlands effectively to retain stormwater and reduce floods.
Along with ADB’s loan, the Pingxiang municipal, county, and district governments will contribute combined assistance of over $211 million. The project will run for 5 years with an expected completion date of end December 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.