Millions of residents on the Loess Plateau in northwest China are enjoying the benefits of the first large-scale water conservation scheme in China supported by the World Bank.
The 4.2-billion-yuan (about 517.8 million U.S. dollars) Loess Plateau Rehabilitation Project was launched in 1994 and completed last year, according to Tuesday's China Daily.
It has helped to improve the environment in the plateau area worst hit by soil erosion more than 35,000 square kilometres in Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Gansu provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Guo Sanren is among 3.2 million people in the area who have benefited from the project.
"With the money from the project, we planted trees and carried out a comprehensive renovation on barren land. After several years of hard work, the total annual income of my six-person family increased from 8,000 yuan (about 1,000 U.S. dollars) in 1999 to 14,700 yuan (about 1,837 U.S. dollars) in 2005," Guo said.
According to statistics from the project's administrative office, the net annual income of local farmers increased from 585 yuan (about 72 U.S. dollars) per person in 1994 to 1,624 yuan (about 200 U.S. dollars) in 2005; the number of people living in poverty decreased from 988,000 to 253,000 people.
Tian Wanquan, deputy director of Shaanxi Provincial Water Resources Department, said that about 10,000 square kilometres of land was renovated by the project in Shaanxi.
"The vegetation coverage rate in the area covered by the project increased from 17.47 per cent at the start to 36.24 per cent at its completion," Tian said.
Source: China Daily