Syndicate content

Launch of earthquake reconstruction video and website

David Dollar's picture

Two weeks ago a World Bank team visited Sichuan, including some of the most devastated areas such as Beichuan county.  My colleagues, Mara Warwick and John Scales, took photos and produced a slideshow --see it below in video version:





Both being engineers, they took a lot of photos of the rubble to illuminate some points about the construction and the effect of the quake.  The slideshow first examines devastation of houses and communities, then moves on to document the destruction at a leading cultural site, the Er'wang temple in Dujiangyan.  It then moves to some of the substantial temporary housing that is going up quickly, as well as the large tent cities where many people will be living throughout the next few months.  Finally, it looks at the relocated Beichuan middle school.  At the same time we are launching our earthquake reconstruction website, where we will update progress with reconstruction over the next few years.  The World Bank will be involved in various phases of the reconstruction and we will report on our involvement as well as the larger reconstruction effort.


Submitted by JHC on
Of the many engineering/economical/political issues looming on China regarding Sichuan, three are worth commenting vis-a-vis your topic. Two are short term, concerning potential but still realistic dangers during the monsoon season: flood threats, and survival of small dams. By triggering major landslides (acting as dams in river valleys) the quake created numerous 'lakes' that may be filled up by monsoon rains. As it happened in the big quake in the same area in 1786, landslide damns collapsing under the weight of accumulated waters may lead to destructive floods down the valleys. I am aware of only one spillway just constructed by the Chinese in the Tangjiashan quake lake near Beichuan. Is it true the government does not have other plans (except monitoring, I guess) for the other 30-odd quake lakes? The other short-term concern is the numerous small dams in the zone hit by the quake, whose epicenter was almost on the Min river (within the triangle inscribed by Maoxian, Luxian and Dujiangyan). Unlike large dams like Zipingpu, small dams have not been engineered for earthquakes, especially the (in)famous 'four-no' ones, and it is unclear whether they would have survived had they not been almost empty at the time -- even Zipingu's face was cracked! Monsoon floods may erode at least some of these small dams causing tidal-like waves striking downstream dams. Finally, there is the long-term issue about China's policy of building so many hydroelectric dams in an area of high odds of seismic risk. (Add to this the 2008 announcement of plans to build nuclear plants in Sichuan, such as a 4-GW plant in Nanchong, not to mention Mianyang and other nuclear military facilities over there.) Besides being China's leading natural gas producer, Sichuan is her largest hydroelectric power producer (19 GW), and I understand the government plans to build even more dams to triple or perhaps quadruple Sichuan's domestic power exports... How much effective government involvement is there now in terms environmental impact studies and control of project applications, construction planning, engineering design and regulatory approval?

Dear JHC, The person most suited to respond to your comment, Mara Warwick, is currently on leave. It will take at least a week for her to come back to the office and address it. In the meantime, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Add new comment