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WB Assists with Ecological Projects
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A World Bank-funded soil erosion treatment program will be launched in the first half of this year to restore the ecological systems in 37 counties and cities in Southwest China.

Xu Yanjie, a water conservation official with the Guizhou Provincial Government, said the program will be launched to restore around 3,000 square km of damaged ecological systems before June 2006 with loans from the World Bank.

He said the six-year program will involve 274 small river valleys which saw nearly half of their soil eroded due to irrational land exploration.

The areas to be treated will cover the three provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei and the Chongqing Municipality. The total investment will add up to 1.62 billion yuan (US$200 million).

Of the investment, US$100 million will be funded by a World Bank loan and the rest will be covered by funds from the Chinese government and donations from the European Union.

According to official researchers, soil erosion has consumed 3,430 square km of land in the river valleys, accounting for 47.5 percent of the total land area in the 274 small river reaches.

Soil erosion has created major bottlenecks which have hindered sustainable development in the area. Nearly half of the 37 counties and cities are poverty-stricken and dependent on relief funds from the Central Government to sustain rural life.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2006)

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