Chongqing, a municipality in the southwest portion of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), comprises 26 districts, 8 counties, and 4 autonomous counties. It covers a large area crossed by rivers and mountains, and has a large geological massif of mountains and hills, with large sloping areas at different heights. At project appraisal in 2009, the municipality was underdeveloped and inequality between its urban and rural areas was very prominent. This inequality was starkly manifest in the urban−rural infrastructure divide, which saw rural areas having far less and poorer quality public services and facilities.
Only 75% of Chongqing’s villages were accessible by rural roads, and many roads were in poor condition. The municipality’s rural areas also suffered from acute water shortages and poor water access. More than eight million rural residents had limited access to safe and reliable potable water supply, resulting in increased waterborne diseases. To help respond to these challenges, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $100 million loan for the Chongqing Urban–Rural Infrastructure Development Demonstration Project in June 2010. The project was a pioneer urban–rural infrastructure development initiative in Chongqing. It targeted eight poor rural districts and counties to create more balanced development and enhance the economic, public health, and environmental conditions for about 377,000 people. It envisaged improved urban and rural environment and enhanced public health and quality of life in the project areas as impact, and improved water supply and roads infrastructure as outcome.
The project had three components at appraisal: (i) construction or rehabilitation of about 362 kilometers (km) of roads; (ii) construction and improvement of 9 water supply facilities, consisting of new water treatment plants and pipelines to boost service coverage, quality, and reliability; and cumulatively provide about 72,500 cubic meters (m3) per day of water; and (iii) implementation support and targeted capacity building for the project implementing entities in the district and county governments. Thirty subprojects from the more than 120 subprojects proposed by Chongqing counties were selected, considering (i) the government’s development priorities and ADB’s country strategy; (ii) social, economic, and environmental impacts; and (iii) technical feasibility. With grant support from ADB’s Water Financing Program, a pilot demonstration activity (PDA) for a water and sanitation public education campaign to improve the hygiene and health awareness of women and children in two counties was implemented in conjunction with the project.
At completion, the project constructed or upgraded 322.17 km, of which 180.46 km were financed by the ADB loan and the rest by domestic funds. Seven water subprojects, including water treatment facilities with a total treatment capacity of 71,500 m3 per day; 51.48 km of transmission pipelines; and 456.25 km of distribution pipelines were built, financed by the ADB loan. Two other water supply subcomponents were also constructed, using domestic funds.
Because of successful output deliveries, the project achieved or exceeded all its outcome targets. The 21 rural roads that were built or upgraded connected 100% of the administrative villages and more than 95% of the administrative village roads were covered with pavement, exceeding the 60%–70% target. Travel times to key markets and public services were shortened by 50%–60% to 15–30 minutes, surpassing the 30%–40% target. The additional potable water supply provided by the project increased safe water supply coverage in the project areas by 18%−23.39%, meeting the 15%–35% target. No incidence of waterborne diseases was recorded in 2016. About 22,000 jobs were generated during construction, of which 9,020 were provided to women. The newly constructed facilities created 1,500 permanent jobs, 465 of them were captured by women.
The target number of beneficiaries was also substantially met, with about 375,819 rural farmers benefiting from sustainable water supply and improved rural road infrastructure. Among the direct beneficiaries, 140,550 are ethnic minorities who live in remote mountainous areas. The improved water supply and rural road connectivity have promoted integrated urban–rural development, narrowed the urban–rural income gap, improved the environment, and enhanced the public health and quality of life in the project areas. As a pioneer urban–rural infrastructure development initiative of the Chongqing municipal government (CMG), the project provides a replicable demonstration model for small-scale urban–rural roads and water supply development in poor districts and counties.
The CMG served as the executing agency. The CMG established a central project management office to take charge of day-to-day implementation.