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Anti-desertification program to start in NW China

(Xinhua)

09:16, February 22, 2012

YINCHUAN, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- An anti-desertification program powered by an investment of 700 million yuan (about 111 million U.S. dollars) is expected to kick off in October in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, local environmental authorities said Tuesday.

The World Bank will provide a loan of 80 million U.S. dollars to help fund the program, with the remaining amount supplied by the local government, according to He Quanfa, who is in charge of international cooperation projects under the regional forestry department.

Located on the arid Loess Highlands, Ningxia has been heavily affected by desertification over the years.

"The program was approved by a panel of experts organized by the World Bank at the end of 2011. In late March, we'll conduct negotiations with the World Bank regarding the project's details," He said, adding that the program will start in October if the negotiations are successful.

The program is designed to reverse the desertification of more than 66,000 hectares of land located near the Ningdong Energy and Chemical Industry Base, as well as to improve the ecology of a section of the Yellow River, He said.

Regional authorities plan to spend 113 million yuan by 2020 to reverse desertification in Ningxia.

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