WASHINGTON/BEIJING, June 26, 2007 – Today the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of US$25 million to the People’s Republic of China to help finance the Western Provinces Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Project. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) co-finances the project with $25 million. In addition, DFID and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provide $3.5 million for a technical assistance project at the central policy level – Knowledge and Advocacy for Sanitation & Hygiene (KASH), focused on advocacy, policy development and innovations in the sector.
The objective of the project is to increase access of poor participating communities to sustainable and equitable water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion services by adopting an integrated and participatory approach, which can be replicated in other provinces.
China has made significant progress in increasing water supply and sanitation coverage over the years. However, there are significant regional and rural/urban imbalances. By the end of 2005, about 312 million rural people were reported to be without access to safe water supply and 790 million rural residents without improved sanitation, many of whom live in western provinces. Many parts of western China are also affected by water source contamination as a result of agricultural and industrial pollution, untreated domestic waster water or high natural arsenic, fluoride or salinity levels.
The Government has set a number of goals for improving rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion. Its Eleventh Five Year Plan for Rural Safe Drinking Water Supply (2006-2010) aims to provide safe drinking water to 160 million people and invest RMB 40 billion (US$5 billion) in rural water supply over the next ten years. Other goals include: to reduce, by one third, the population without access to clean drinking water and provide 70 percent of the rural population with piped water supplies by 2010, and to provide safe drinking water for all by 2020; increase sanitation coverage in rural areas to 65 percent by 2010; and 60 percent of farmers in western China will know essential health information and 50 percent will have appropriate health and hygiene behaviors by 2010.
“We want to help the Government achieve its goals by developing a replicable model for addressing the lack of access in the two project provinces,” said Tom Zearley, Sector Coordinator in the World Bank Beijing Office and project leader. “The project will help develop lessons on the three in one approach (three-in-one approach refers to integration of sanitation and hygiene promotion activities together with water supply) in order to scale up this approach in other provinces. International evidence shows that water supply and sanitation programs, implemented together with hygiene promotion activities, have a greater impact on health and productivity than single sector interventions.”
The project will be implemented in 25 counties in Sichuan and Shaanxi Provinces. The counties were selected on the basis of poverty levels, existing water supply and sanitation conditions, and communities’ willingness to participate, among other factors. More than 60 percent of the investment will be spent on improving access to safe drinking water, through construction of village piped water supply systems, rainwater collection systems and wells in the project areas. All schools within the project areas of Shaanxi Province and selected schools within the project areas in Sichuan Province will be provided with safe water supply. Over a quarter of the investment will go into improving environmental sanitation, by building or upgrading household, public and school toilets, hand washing and drainage facilities, and garbage drop-off points. The project will also support hygiene promotion, through research, technical assistance, mass media programs, community and school participatory hygiene promotion campaigns, and behavioral change monitoring and evaluation. Management and technical training programs will be provided to strengthen local capacities for project implementation, including training in participatory approaches and facilitation skills. The development of monitoring and evaluation systems and dissemination activities for scaling up the project approaches at the provincial and national level are also part of the project design.
“We are committed to support China’s poverty alleviation by targeting poor counties and villages which lack safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities and set the necessary conditions for equitable access,” said Susanna Smets, Water Sector Manager of DFID’s China office. “We are also happy that Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces are encouraging active community participation in all phases of the project cycle, covering design, construction, operations and evaluation of the services to be delivered. “A social marketing approach towards sanitation and hygiene promotion is important innovation supported by the provinces”
Central government authorities in Beijing have been strong advocates of reforms in the rural water supply and sanitation sector across China to expand access to basic services and to develop replicable models for scaling up. Both the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance have been actively engaged in securing the expertise and funding of the World Bank, DFID and UNICEF teams for this innovative project. “I hope that we three international agencies working together can provide substantial added value to the design and delivery of new approaches for rural supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion in China,” said Keshav Varma, World Bank’s East Asia Urban Development Director.
The total project investment costs are US$75.36 million, with US$25 million from the World Bank, US$25 million from DFID and US$25.36 million of counterpart funds from the Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces, including beneficiaries’ contributions.
The World Bank supported four prior rural water and sanitation projects in China in the past two decades, with a total of more than US$330 million.