Full text: China's Actions for Disaster Prevention and Reduction

IV. Enhancement of Disaster-reduction Capability

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the enhancement of disaster-reduction capability. It has made great efforts in undertaking disaster-reduction projects, improving disaster early warning and emergency response, enhancing sci-tech support, strengthening personnel training and disaster reduction work in communities.

1. Carrying out Disaster-reduction Projects and Improving Capability in Comprehensive Prevention of Disasters

In recent years, China has engaged in a series of important disaster-reduction projects, including those concerning flood control, drought combat, earthquake prevention and relief, cyclone control, red tide and other marine disaster prevention, desertification and sandstorm control, and ecological construction.

-- Flood control on major rivers. The government has greatly in-creased its input in harnessing major rivers by way of adopting proactive financial policies and issuance of bonds, which has accelerated the progress of the harnessing of major rivers and lakes. To date, the construction and renovation of the dykes on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River have been completed; construction of standardized dykes on the lower reaches of the Yellow River is in full swing; 19 major flood control projects for the Huaihe River have been, by and large, completed; and pivotal water conservancy projects at the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, Xiaolangdi on the Yellow River and Linhuaigang on the Huaihe River are playing their full part. China's flood control ability on major rivers has been further improved. Construction work on some major sections of these rivers is now capable of defying the severest flood in 100 years. The flood control capability of small and medium-sized rivers has been continuously improved. The standard for key sea dykes has been raised to withstand the worst flood in 50 years.

-- Housing renovation for impoverished rural residents. China attaches great importance to disaster-proof residential construction in rural areas. During the reconstruction of disaster-stricken buildings, technical guidance is given and quality control stressed on site selection, design, construction and acceptance inspection. Housing projects are pushed forward in combination with poverty alleviation efforts. Since 2005, a total of 17.535 billion yuan has been invested nationwide in the renovation and construction of 5.8016 million rural houses for 1.8051 million impoverished households totaling 6.4965 million people.

-- Decrepit school building renovation. Since 2001, a school building renovation scheme has been implemented throughout the country. By the end of 2005, a special fund of 9 billion yuan from the state revenues has been allocated for renovating the decrepit buildings of over 40,000 schools. Since 2006, building renovation expenses of all primary and junior high schools in rural areas have been included in the financial support scheme for compulsory education in rural areas.

-- Safe school buildings. Starting from 2009, the state will reinforce school buildings nationwide in order to make them meet the earthquake withstanding standard applied for key projects within three years. They should also meet the requirements in preventing and avoiding disasters caused by mountainside landslide, rock collapse, mud-rock flow, tropical heat wave, fire, etc.

-- Seepage prevention and reinforcement for unsafe reservoirs. In March 2008, the state issued the Special National Plan on Seepage Prevention and Reinforcement for Unsafe Reservoirs, requiring the completion of renovation of large and medium reservoirs as well as key small-sized ones threatened by floods within three years. In 2008, 4,035 seepage prevention and reservoir reinforcement projects were undertaken, accounting for 65 percent of the total 6,240 targeted reservoirs.

-- Drinking water safety in rural areas. During the Tenth Five-year Plan period (2000-2005), a total of 22.3 billion yuan was spent on solving the problem of drinking water for 67 million people in rural areas, thus basically ending the history of a serious shortage of drinking water in rural areas. Since 2006 priorities have been shifted to guaranteeing that all drinking water is safe. From 2006 to 2008, 23.8 billion yuan were invested by the state revenues and 22.6 billion yuan invested by local revenues for providing safe drinking water to an accumulated rural population of 109 million.

-- Water and soil erosion control. In the 1980s, key water and soil erosion control projects were launched in areas suffering from serious water and soil erosion, such as those along the Yellow and the Yangtze rivers. During the later period of the Ninth Five-year Plan (1996-2000), efforts were extended to the upper and middle reaches of the seven major rivers (Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe, Haihe, Songhua, Liaohe, Pearl) and the Taihu Lake. By 2008, key water and soil erosion control projects had covered a total area of 260,000 sq km, with 70 percent of such areas put under control and a silt reduction rate of 40% or more. Soil erosion in the Jialing River area, on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, has been reduced by one third, while the sediment flow into the Yellow River has been reduced by about 300 million tons per annum.

-- Farmland irrigation and drainage. Since the beginning of the Ninth Five-year Plan, China has increased financial input in farmland irrigation and drainage facility construction, focusing on construction of support facilities and water-saving facilities in major irrigation areas.

As a result, farmland irrigation and drainage as well as flood and drought resistance abilities have been improved.

-- Ecological construction and environmental improvement. Since the beginning of the 21st century, key ecological construction projects have been carried out, including those concerning natural forest resources protection, reverting farmland to forest, shelter forest construction in the northeast, north and northwest of China, key shelter forest construction on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, sand-storm sources control in the Beijing and Tianjin areas, desertification control in karst landform areas, wildlife protection and nature reserve construction, coastal shelter forest construction and the restoration of pasturage to natural grassland. All these projects are aimed at checking the rapid expansion of desertification and reduce the damages caused by extreme climatic conditions. Pilot ecological compensation work has been carried out and experimented with six ecological compensation projects, including rational coal resources development in Shanxi Province. Efforts have also been made in the field of ecological construction at the provincial, municipal and county levels, and in building ecological towns and villages with excellent surroundings, especially pushing ahead the construction of 103 key demonstration counties.

-- Construction of earthquake-proof buildings and facilities. China has promulgated the Regulations on the Administration of Disaster Prevention of Urban Public Utilities, the Urban Earthquake and Disaster Prevention Planning Standards and the Design Specifications for Earthquake-proof Buildings in Towns (Townships) and Villages. China has published the Zoning Map of China with Seismological Parameters, improved its earthquake-proof evaluation management system for key construction projects, and promoted the implementation of safety guarantees for earthquake-proof houses in rural areas. Construction and reinforcement of 2.45 million such houses have been completed. After the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, the Earth-quake-proof Classification Standards for Construction Projects and the Earthquake-proof Construction Design Specifications have been revised.

-- Highway disaster prevention. Since 2006, in view of highways being destroyed by flood or earthquake, the state has implemented highway disaster prevention projects. By 2008, a total of 1.54 billion yuan had been invested to renovate road embankments, roadbeds, bridge structures and flood-proof and drainage facilities with focus on disaster prevention facilities in mountainous and hilly areas. The disaster-prevention capability of China’s ordinary highways has also been improved in an all-round way.

2. Building up a Three-dimensional Monitoring System and Enhancing Disaster Monitoring, Early Warning and Forecasting Capability

China is building a three-dimensional natural disaster monitoring system, including land monitoring, ocean and ocean-bed observation, and space-air-ground observation. A disaster monitoring, early warning and forecasting system has taken initial shape.

— Disaster remote-sensing monitoring system. Small satellites named Constellation A and Constellation B for environmental disaster-reduction monitoring have been launched. A business application system by using the disaster-reduction satellite has taken shape, providing advanced technological support to remote-sensing monitoring, evaluation of and decision-making for disaster reduction.

— Meteorological early warning and forecasting system. Meteorological satellites FY-1, FY-2 and FY-3 have been put into orbit. A new generation of weather radar installations, totaling 146, has been developed. Ninety-one high-altitude meteorological stations equipped with L-band upper-air meteorological sounding system have been established, and 25,420 regional meteorological observation stations are in operation. Special meteorological observation networks have been preliminarily built for studies of atmospheric elements, acid rain, sandstorm, thunder and lightning and agricultural and transportation meteorology. A comparatively complete data forecasting system has been built for early warning of imminent disastrous weather. A meteorological early warning information release platform covering both urban and rural communities has been established, releasing relevant information through radio, television, newspaper, cell-phone and the Internet.

— Hydrological monitoring and flood early warning and forecasting system. A hydrological monitoring network composed of 3,171 hydrological stations, 1,244 gauging stations, 14,602 precipitation stations, 61 hydrological experiment stations and 12,683 groundwater observation wells has been completed. A flood early warning and forecasting system, ground water monitoring system, water resources management system and hydrological data system have been established.

— Earthquake monitoring and forecasting system. China has built 937 fixed seismic stations and over 1,000 mobile seismic stations, enabling China to be capable of quasi-real-time monitoring of earthquakes above 3 on the Richter scale. In addition, 1,300 earthquake precursor observation stations have been established, as well as a mobile observation network composed of over 4,000 mobile observation stations. Seismological forecasting and monitoring systems at both national and provincial levels have taken initial shape. A high-speed seismic data network composed of 700 information nodes has been built. A cell-phone message service to provide timely earthquake reporting has been launched.

— Geological disaster monitoring system. Since 2003, meteorological early warning of geological disasters has been in place. Over 120,000 places with potential geological hazards are now covered by this system. Also practiced in those places is that masses are involved in disaster monitoring and prevention. A special landslide monitoring network at the Three Gorges Reservoir area, and land subsidence monitoring networks in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin have been largely completed.

-- Environment monitoring and early warning system. Work on environment quality monitoring, pollutant monitoring, environment early warning and forecasting and unexpected environmental accidents monitoring has been carried out for objective observation of the pollution of surface, ground and ocean water, as well as air, noise, solid waste and radiation pollution. The newly launched HJ-1 environmental satellites A and B carry out efficient, macroscopic and real-time ecological monitoring and evaluation. A preliminary air-ground environment monitoring structure has been built. To date, there are altogether 2,399 environment monitoring stations with 49,335 technicians in China.

-- Wild animal epidemic sources and disease monitoring and early warning system. A national wild animal epidemic sources and disease monitoring network has been established, with 350 observation stations at the national level, 768 at the provincial level and over 1,400 at the county level in major natural habitats of migratory birds and other wildlife. Thus, a wild animal epidemic sources and disease monitoring and early warning system has been founded, comprising national, provincial and county levels.

-- Plant disease and insect pest monitoring and reporting system. A crop pests and disease monitoring and reporting network composed of over 3,000 observation stations and a grassland rodent and insect pest monitoring and reporting network composed of more than 240 observation stations have been established. The categories of crop pests covered by the national monitoring and reporting system have increased from 15 in the early 1990s to 26 at present. The interval of reporting on major plant diseases and insect pests has been reduced from ten days to one week. Also established is a forest pest monitoring and reporting network composed of over 2,500 observation stations at the national, county and township (town) levels. It now covers the most dangerous and frequently occurring forest pests in 35 categories.

-- Marine disaster forecasting system. Oceanographic observation instruments, equipment and facilities have been renovated. Offshore observation capacity has been enhanced greatly. Buoy observation and cross-sectional survey abilities have been improved as a whole. A batch of marine observation stations has been constructed or renovated. Upgrading of real-time communication system has been completed at some key observation stations. An observation and evaluation system for sea-air interaction and ocean climate changes has been developed for ocean disaster monitoring closely related to climate changes such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, seawater intrusion and saline tide.

-- Forest and grassland fire early warning and monitoring system. The country's three-dimensional monitoring system for forest and grassland fires, including monitoring by satellite remote sensing, air-plane cruise flight, video monitoring, watching on duty and ground detection, has been improved. A graded forest fire early warning and response system and a fire risk evaluation system have been primarily established.

-- Sandstorm monitoring and evaluation system. Efforts have been put into building a satellite remote sensing system for sandstorm monitoring and evaluation, as well as a cell-phone message network. Ground observation points have been set up in major sandstorm-stricken areas of north China at the national, provincial, municipal and county levels so as to form a sandstorm monitoring network covering the whole of north China.

3. Establishing an Emergency Rescue and Disaster Relief Response System, and Improving Emergency Handling Capabilities

A disaster relief emergency response system has taken initial shape, with emergency rescue team system, emergency response mechanism and emergency fund appropriation mechanism as its main items. Emergency handling capabilities such as emergency rescue, transportation support, help with daily life, sanitation and epidemic prevention have been greatly enhanced.

-- Emergency rescue team system. An emergency rescue team system has taken initial shape, with the public security forces, armed police and armed forces as the main and task force, with special teams such as flood fighting and emergency rescue, earthquake relief, forest fire, maritime search and rescue, mine rescue, and medical care teams as the basic force, with full-time and part-time teams attached to enterprises and public institutions and emergency volunteers as the backup force. The state's land, air search and rescue base construction has been accelerated, and emergency rescue equipment has been further improved.

-- Emergency rescue response mechanism. The central government-stipulated responses to unexpected natural disasters are divided into four levels, which are determined by the degree of damage done. The concrete response measures at different levels have been expressly defined, and disaster relief work has been incorporated into a standard management process. The establishment of a disaster rescue emergency response mechanism basically guarantees that people affected by a disaster can receive aid within 24 hours. They are supplied with "food, clothing, clean water, temporary housing, medical treatment and schooling."

-- Disaster relief emergency fund appropriation mechanism. A disaster relief fund appropriation mechanism of the central government has been established, including funds for daily life of those affected by natural disasters, funds for severe flood control and drought combat, funds for roads damaged by flood, funds for inland waterway channel rush-repair, funds for medical rescue, funds for culture, education and administration endeavors, and funds for disaster relief in agriculture and forestry. The disaster relief management system characterized by management of disaster relief by levels and funds shared by different levels is being actively promoted. Disaster relief input by local governments must be guaranteed so as to ensure the basic livelihood of people affected by disasters.

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