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INBAR’S EU-Switch project brings recovery for Sichuan

Stories
6Dec
In May 2008, China’s Sichuan province was rocked with a devastating earthquake ranking an 8.0 on the Richter scale, the deadliest China had seen since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.  With hundreds of thousands of people forced from the rubble, the area scrambled to rebuild.   On top of the economic hit, these recovery efforts put a huge strain on the natural resources of Sichuan province, particularly those related to the reconstruction of demolished housing.

Wanting to help with the efforts and establish a sustainable recovery plan, INBAR, along with partners from the Sichuan Forestry Department, the EU Project Innovation Center and the Benelux Chamber of Commerce in China, started its EU-funded project, “Sustainable Revival of Livelihoods in Post-Disaster Sichuan: Enhancing eco-friendly, pro-poor bamboo production supply chains to support reconstruction effort.”

The EU-Switch Asia project aimed to establish a sustainable bamboo construction supply-chain that would be environmentally friendly and provide long-term employment and income to the disaster-stricken area through the use of local bamboo resources.  It would also help in the rebuilding of homes that were leveled in the earthquake.
“Disaster relief and rebuilding efforts put a lot of pressure on Sichuan’s natural resources,” said INBAR Director General Dr. Coosje Hoogendoorn.  “This project helped manage these resources responsibly and has laid the groundwork for a mechanism for sustainable economic development in the area for years to come.”

The delegation of the European Union to China, the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and the Sichuan Provincial Department of Forestry came together on Dec. 6, 2013, to commemorate the close of the project and celebrate its achievements.

H.E. Markus Ederer and Dr. Coosje Hoogendoorn at the project’s closing ceremony.

H.E. Markus Ederer, the EU Ambassador to China, was on hand for the closing ceremony in Chengdu, in addition to Mr. Shi Jun, Vice Governor of Sichuan Provincial People’s Government and Dr. Hoogendoorn.
“After four years of implementation, I am pleased to see the project has achieved its expected results,” said H.E Ederer.  “The past four years have also been a period of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the earth-quake affected areas.”

Since its inception, more than 23,000 rural households benefitted from cooperatives set up by the project, spanning eight counties in the province.

Mr. Robert Gorris, General Manager of the Benelux Chamber of Commerce, Beijing, presented a technical report on the challenges and solutions for investment initiatives in Sichuan bamboo small- and medium-sized enterprises at the ceremony.  He praised bamboo for its investment value.  “Bamboo is a very stable investment as an agricultural crop.  It provides a continued income if sustainably managed, enabling it to become an important tool in diversifying investment portfolios.”

In the future, INBAR hopes to be able to share the methods used in the project with partners around the globe.