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WB Loan to Improve Urban Environmental Management
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The World Bank's board of executive directors Tuesday signed off on a loan of US$173 million to China to support the Second Liaoning Medium Cities Infrastructure Project. This deal is further sweetened by a US$5 million grant by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).


The project will come as a boon to seven medium-sized cities and Yingkou Economic Development Zone in Liaoning Province which are in dire need of improved water supply, wastewater treatment and solid waste services. Such a move would also lead to a marked lowering of pollution into the Bohai Sea.


The WB loan will have a variety of uses, helping finance construction or rehabilitation of wastewater collection and treatment facilities; the construction of water distribution pipelines, installation of water supply meters, and new construction or upgrading of existing water treatment plants. It will also help bolster planned construction of new landfills and procurement of solid waste collection and transfer works and equipment. 


For its part, the GEF grant will go towards technical assistance in design and construction, public utility improvement program, solid waste master planning and water pollution control planning.  The seven Liaoning cities that will gain from this project are Panjin, Yingkou, Fushun, Anshan, Gaizhou, Haicheng and Xingcheng.


"The project provides an excellent platform for Liaoning to expand its environmental infrastructure and enhance utility regulation and capacity building. It will become a vital component for the the economic revitalization of Liaoning, improve the quality of life in eight cities, and help improve Bohai Sea water quality." said Greg Browder, the project's Senior Environmental Engineer and Task Leader. 


This is the second of a series of three projects supporting medium-sized cities in Liaoning. The First Liaoning Medium Cities Infrastructure Project, approved in June 2006, focused on urban transport while the third instance, scheduled for 2008, will tackle the vagaries of urban heating.  In total, the three projects will bring in around US$600 million in WB financing, and cement the financial institution's long-standing development partnership with Liaoning Province.


In another development, the WB Wednesday approved a loan of US$25 million to help improve access to water and sanitation in western China.


The Western Provinces Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Project is set to tackle the poor access to sustainable water supplies for poverty-stricken rural communities across 25 counties while also addressing the vital areas of sanitation and hygiene. It aims to develop a working model based on an integrated and participatory approach, which can then be replicated in other provinces, according to a WB statement.


The total investment costs will amount toUS$75.36 million, with US$25 million of loans from the WB, US$25 million of grants from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and US$25.36 million from the participating provinces of Shaanxi and Sichuan.


More than 60 percent of the investment will go towards improving access to safe drinking water, through the construction of piped water supply systems, rainwater collection systems and wells. The ultimate goal is for all participating schools in Shaanxi and Sichuan to see a steady supply of safe water.


Environmental sanitation will be another big winner with over a quarter of the investment set aside for building or upgrading household, public and school toilets, hand washing and drainage facilities, and garbage drop-off points.


Finally, the project will also support hygiene promotion, as well as providing management and technical training.


Currently, over 300 million people in China go without safe and clean drinking water, most of them located in comparatively poor rural areas. Government targets, if met would see 160 million rural people get consistent supplies of clean drinking water by 2010, expected to be extended to all rural areas by 2015.


(China.org.cn, Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2007)

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