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WB Loans to Recover Ecology in 274 River Valleys in China

China will launch water conservation programs in 274 small river valleys to restore the marred ecological system with loans from the World Bank in 2006, according to a Chinese water resources committee.

Deputy director of the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee Xiong Tie told Xinhua in a recent interview that the six-year program will cover 274 small river valleys which saw nearly half of their soil damaged due to irrational land exploration.

Xiong said that the treated areas along China's longest river the Yangtze, and the third longest river Pearl, 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 financing sourced by the Chinese government and donations from the European Union, said Xiong.

According to research by the committee, soil erosion has consumed 3,430 square km of land in the river valleys, accounting for 47.5 percent of the total land space in the 274 small river reaches of 37 counties and cities.

Soil erosion has become a major bottleneck hindering sustainable development in areas. 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 November 27, 2005)


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