The Huai River Basin is one of the seven large river basins in China, and covers 270,000 km2 in five provinces of Henan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shandong with a total population of 165 million. However, major flood and water-logging disasters occur every three to five years, causing huge economic losses in the flood plains of the Huai River Basin. Following the disastrous 2003 floods which caused direct economic losses equivalent to $4.5B and made thousands of people homeless, the Government of China gave priority to the development of flood control and drainage infrastructure in the basin and has carried out a number of major programs with an aim to upgrade the flood control standards from the current once in less than five to 50 years to once in 20 to 100 years.

The Huai River Basin Flood Management and Drainage Improvement Project will supplement the Government’s efforts and focus on relatively medium and small size works on the lesser tributaries in the poorer rural areas in the Huai River Basin in the provinces of Jiangsu, Shandong, Anhui and Henan to provide the local population with better and more secure protection against floods and water logging, increase farmland productivity, and reduce property losses.

“Rather than focusing on infrastructure construction only, we will adopt a new approach for integrated flood management and drainage improvement for this project. The new approach will focus on integration of structural and non-structural measures at both river-basin level and local level, and involve greater rural community participation in the design, construction and management of the lower-level works,” said Jiang Liping, World Bank Senior Irrigation Specialist and task team leader for the project. Farmers and rural communities in the project area will organize farmers’ drainage and irrigation associations and participate in drainage and minor irrigation improvement works.