After floods devastated Henan in July 2021, a USD1billion loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will support the area's reconstruction and recovery and help the province become more resilient to future extreme weather events.
From July 17 to 24, 2021, Henan Province in central China received 1.4 times the annual average rainfall, with total rainfall of 1,074 millimeters (mm).

The maximum hourly rainfall was 201.9 mm, breaking the historical record for inland precipitation in China. Already a flood-prone area with four of China's largest rivers crossing the province, the devastating floods caused by the rains affected 14.8 million people in 150 cities and counties. It claimed hundreds of lives and caused USD17.5 billion in direct economic losses. The cities most affected by the floods were Zhengzhou, Xinxiang and Jiaozuo.
The Government of Henan quickly activated emergency responses amid the flooding and requested the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for an emergency loan to support its recovery.

"AIIB promptly responded to the urgent need for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction," said Guoping Zhang, Senior Investment Specialist - Water at AIIB. "We immediately set to work designing a project and were able to submit a concept by September."

In November 2021, AIIB approved a USD1 billion loan to the Government of Henan for the Henan Flood Emergency Rehabilitation and Recovery Project. After several months of intensive work in undertaking a feasibility study, technical design, and preparing environmental and social risk management plans, a good foundation has been laid for the project to be implemented in 2022.

The AIIB sovereign financing will support post-disaster rehabilitation and recovery in the three hardest-hit municipalities of Zhengzhou, Xinxiang and Jiaozuo and, more importantly, strengthen their capacity in integrated flood risk management and flood emergency response.

In addition to providing much-needed funding critical to Henan's post-disaster recovery, the project will bring significant value addition by applying a holistic approach to improving water security in project design, particularly in integrated flood risk management. Aside from applying international good practices in project management to ensure project quality and utilize sound environmental and social standards to safeguard project outcomes, the project will also incorporate climate adaptation into its design.

"Climate adaptation was mainstreamed in the project design to build back better,” said Zhang. "This will improve the municipalities' climate resilience, ensuring its long-term sustainability and directly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on water and sanitation, sustainable cities and climate action."

This feature aligns the project with AIIB's thematic priorities on Green Infrastructure. "The project interventions, covering water, urban and transport sectors, take into account nature-based solutions, combining gray infrastructure with green spacing and ecosystem restoration and applying modern technologies and materials to improve climate adaptation and resilient capacity," he said.

The project will apply advanced technologies in asset management, operations and monitoring to support flood emergency-informed decision-making for flood response, using a holistic approach in project design, international good practice in managing environmental and social, procurement and financial management risks, and improving project quality and sustainability by facilitating cross-sectoral coordination.

"Digital technologies, including hardware and software, will be used in the development of integrated water management systems," explained Jingjing Zhao, AIIB Investment Operation Specialist. "For example, the integrated flood emergency response systems will apply state-of-the-art technologies including GIS, numerical modeling, and big data integration. These technologies will enable increased asset value, enhance safeguards and improve infrastructure sustainability and resilience. In addition, the project will help improve the capacity of implementing agencies and project stakeholders to manage large and complex projects."

Zhang said that the project adopted a ‘framework approach’ given the emergency nature of the project.

"With this approach, the framework was designed to encompass the geographical locations and sectors that were mostly affected and require priority investment for rehabilitation and reconstruction," he said.

"Under the framework, a group of individual subprojects were identified based on well- defined the project selection criteria," Zhang added. "The subprojects selected during the preparation stage will be further screened and appraised during project implementation. This framework approach provides a rapid and flexible response to project design."

The project will soon begin to rehabilitate the river works affected by the flooding, reconstruct damaged roads, recover damaged urban flood and drainage systems, and public transport facilities. The project will also start developing and enhancing the flood emergency systems of the three project municipalities. Through these interventions, the project will improve urban drainage systems and enhance flood protection standards for the rivers, hence increasing the climate resilience of the infrastructure.
China: Supporting Post-disaster Recovery in Henan