Three years ago, a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan province and laid Wenchuan county in ruins. The city of Chengdu also suffered, as several of its counties, namely Dujiangyan, Pengzhou and Chongzhou were also badly hit. According to official data, the direct economic loss for Chengdu city reached 127.7 billion yuan ($19.65 billion).
However, during the past three years, Chengdu has made tremendous recovery efforts. By the end of 2010, 2,866, or 91 percent of its 3,147 reconstruction programs, had been completed, with the total investment reaching 82.35 billion yuan.
Most of the houses damaged in the quake have already been rebuilt or repaired, with living conditions in the damaged areas greatly improved, even surpassing those before the earthquake in some aspects. Various signs show that the people, as well as the city, are recovering from the tragedy, which is gradually becoming a memory of the past.
Several lessons can be learned from the Chengdu success, of which the first, without doubt, should be the regulation of assistance. Kind-hearted people from the whole country came to the city not long after the earthquake to aid the people that most needed help and good coordinators, official or not, played an essential role in this process.
Second, several provinces and cities, like Shanghai municipality, Fujian province, Chongqing municipality and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, all offered special funds and completed many recovery projects for the counties hit by the quake.
By the end of 2010, the above-mentioned municipalities and provinces accomplished 378 recovery projects in all, including the construction of basic infrastructure, medical support, education and telecommunications.
Thanks to ceaseless efforts, the general infrastructure has now recovered, even surpassing that before the earthquake. With 3,312 kilometers of roads and 135 bridges being damaged by the earthquake, Chengdu city has had to redesign and rebuild most of the key and branch roads, thus forming a new transportation net. Urban railways connecting Chengdu and nearby cities are also under construction.
As one of the most urgent and most difficult problems, shelter was given special attention by the local government. Tens of thousands of people became homeless overnight after the earthquake, but by the end of 2010, the city had rebuilt and repaired more than 500,000 apartments, of which 451,633 are in the rural area and 141,512 in urban zones. Today most of the refugees have their own house and are starting a new life.
Local residents have also been involved in the reconstruction process. In June and August 2008, the local government twice organized experts to visit the quake-stricken areas to draw up plans for the reconstruction.
According to the plan, the residents are free to choose whether to rebuild their damaged house, build their own on a uniform design, accept a uniform government-built apartment, or move to another place.
Last but by no means least is the timely psychological assistance that has been provided. Chengdu started several psychological assistance programs immediately after the disaster, and soon enlarged them to cover the whole region.
In the recovery period, Chengdu has developed these psychological assistance programs into long-term mechanisms and established a complete psychological service system. Today the city has 628 psychological service stations and 666 psychological assistance workers in all.
On May 11, on the 2011 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN bestowed great honor upon eight cities including Chengdu for their excellent reconstruction work.
The Chengdu example has won international acknowledgement, and we hope the city will continue its recovery and better improve the lives of the people.