The World Bank has approved a 150-million-U.S.-dollar loan to improve township and village roads in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, which is expected to benefit 333,000 people, according to a press release on Monday.
The new project will focus on developing rural transport infrastructure in Tongren Municipality in northeast Guizhou with a population of 4.27 million, the press release said
More than 96 percent of Tongren’s area is hilly and mountainous, and years of poor transport connectivity between rural and urban areas has resulted in income disparities, with rural disposable income only 24 percent of urban disposable income.
The region’s GDP per capita is less than 2,000 U.S. dollars, and 25 percent of its residents have incomes below the national poverty line.
“The new project will help improve connectivity in two counties in Tongren by upgrading selected rural roads to Class IV and building rural bridges. These investments will reduce the travel time between rural areas and urbanized areas and increase the reliability of access,” said Holly Krambeck, World Bank’s Senior Transport Specialist and task team leader for the project.
The project will be implemented in Dejiang County and Sinan County between 2015 and 2020. Apart from road upgrades and bridge construction, it will also provide technical assistance and training in rural road network planning, road safety and road maintenance.
Through the project, the percentage of paved township roads in Dejiang and Sinan is expected to increase from 34 percent to 100 percent and from 53 percent to 62 percent, respectively.
Roads funded under the project will pass through villages that are home to over 333,000 residents, or about 35 percent of the total population in the two counties.
Despite stellar economic growth in past decades, poverty remains an issue in the country, which still has over 70 million people living below the poverty line.